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1828 S. Fourth St.   |   Hartsville, SC  29550   |   843-900-m2me (6263)

Early Childhood Intervention

Introducing Music 2 My Ears Hearing/Screening Kit

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About Us

Bright Eyes Enterprise, Incorporation

Laura Nay incorporated Bright Eyes Enterprise, Inc. in 2001.  It is a woman-owned business.  Ms. Nay worked as the Marketing Director for Graphic Directions, a graphic arts company in Boulder, Colorado in the late 80’s, where she met Lois and Floyd Merriam of BAM World Markets (BAM).  BAM had been contracted by Marion Downs, DHS, and Professor Emerita at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, to develop a hearing/screening kit to be used in the screening of infants, babies, toddlers and young pre-school aged children.  This early kit was known as the “Hear-Kit System”.  Ms. Nay later joined BAM as their Marketing Director serving for ten years coming to understand the importance of early childhood intervention for hearing/screening.  Following a long legal battle, and the sudden death of Lois Merriam, Ms. Nay arranged to purchase the “Hear-Kit System” from BAM with the hopes of revising and reviving the system, so that it could once again be a useful tool in the field for screening mild to moderate hearing loss in young children and babies.

After an additional 3 years of research and development, and a nodding approval from Dr. Downs, “Music 2 My Ears” Hearing/Screening Kit became the revised version of the early “Hear-Kit System” and Bright Eyes Enterprise, Inc. was formed.  The business name comes from watching children as they first realize that they can hear something they haven’t heard before – their eyes become bright and their laughter is “Music 2 My Ears”.

Tribute and Thanks to Marion P. Downs

Marion P. Downs is an audiologist and Professor Emerita at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, who pioneered universal newborn hearing screening in the early 1960s.  She has worked for 40 years to alert the medical world on the developmental problems associated with childhood deafness.  As a result of her efforts, 95 percent of all newborns in America today are screened for hearing loss.  She devoted her professional life to the promotion of early identification of hearing loss in newborns, infants, and young children and to helping those handicapped by hearing impairment lead fulfilling lives.  Downs attended the University of Minnesota (UM) until 1934, and in 1948 finished her course requirements at the University of Colorado. She received the bachelor’s degree in political science and English from UM.  In 1949, she enrolled in graduate school at the University of Denver (DU) and received her master’s degree in audiology in 1951.  She promptly went to work at DU, teaching audiology and directing the audiology clinic from 1951 to 1959.  At DU, she supervised a contract with the Veteran’s Administration, doing all the veterans’ speech pathology and audiology exams and hearing aid assessments.

In 1959, she began working as an audiologist in a new ear-nose-and-throat (otolaryngology) clinic at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.  There, along with Doreen Pollack, she initiated the practice of fitting hearing aids on infants by the age of six months, on the theory that the earlier the remediation and prevention, the better the functioning would be.  At the time, most children did not receive hearing aids until two or three years of age.  In 1962, she developed an observational test on newborns, which she reported in 1964.  Scientific neurological reports confirmed the early remediation theory in the late 1980s and 1990s. Downs worked at the clinic until retiring in 1982.  She published two books and over a 100 articles on the subject.  She has also lectured and taught extensively throughout the United States and overseas.

In 1969, she proposed that a national committee be established, composed of representatives from professional hearing health care organizations, to periodically review and evaluate as well as recommend a “best practices” approach to newborn hearing screening.  This led to the formation that year of the national Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, which has provided multidisciplinary leadership and guidance in all areas of newborn and infant hearing issues since.   Downs co-authored Hearing in Children (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) with J. L. Northern—a textbook for audiology students on how to evaluate and manage children with hearing impairments. The book underwent five editions between 1972 and 2004 and was translated into several foreign languages. She also coauthored Auditory Disorders in School Children with R. Roeser (Thieme), now in its third edition.

The Marion Downs Hearing Center (MDHC) was named in Downs’ honor and opened in May 2005 on the campus of the University of Colorado Medical Center.  Prior to Marion’s ground-breaking research and the founding of the MDHC, services for children, youths, and adults who are hard of hearing were fragmented which often required parents of deaf or hard of hearing children to move from county to county or move to another city in order to access the programs their child needed.  The Marion Downs Hearing Center recognized this gap and now offers individualized programs that teach the children and teenagers the skills to become independent adults, no matter their communication preference.

She was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2006, and in 2007 received the Secretary’s Highest Recognition Award at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for her groundbreaking work and lifetime dedication promoting the early identification of hearing problems in children.

Downs has received two honorary doctorate degrees: a Doctor of Science from the University of Colorado and a Doctor of Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado.  The University of Colorado’s School of Medicine awarded her the Gold Medal Recognition.  The University of Minnesota gave her its Outstanding Achievement Award.

She has been awarded the Medal of the Ministry of Health of South Vietnam, and has been recognized with honors from nearly every professional hearing-related society including the American Academy of Audiology, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Society. She was a founder of the American Auditory Society and invited to present the prestigious Carhart Memorial Lecture in 1980.  She received an Outstanding Service Recognition Award from the American Medical Association for her work in teaching audiology in Vietnam.  She was among the early members of the International Audiology Society, and has served on numerous committees, boards, and task forces on local, national, and international projects.  She served as the program chair for the International Audiology Congress on two occasions.

The Marion Downs Hearing Center Foundation was founded in 2002 to support the Marion Downs Hearing Center’s ever-growing programs, services, and research through charitable gifts from foundations, individuals, and businesses throughout Colorado, the West, and the nation.

If it weren’t for Dr. Downs’ foresight and the knowledge of how important it is to screen children ‘in the field’ through existing programs like Head Start and other such Early Childhood Intervention programs, Bright Eyes Enterprise, Inc. would not exist today distributing “Music 2 My Ears” Hearing/Screening Kits throughout the nation.  It is especially important that Bright Eyes Enterprise, Inc. thank Dr. Downs for her support and her lifetime devotion to such an essential component of life.  Laura Nay.

 

 

 

1828 S. Fourth St.   |   Hartsville, SC  29550   |   843-900-m2me (6263)


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