Erin C. Schafer, Ph.D., CCC-A

Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Audiology
Erin C. Schafer, Ph.D., CCC-A

Biography:

Dr. Schafer has been a faculty member in the Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology since 2005. She received her Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2005. Her research programs on the assessment and (re)habilitation of adults and children with hearing loss and auditory disorders have produced over 100 publications, four textbooks, national and international podium presentations at conferences, and external grants and gifts. She is the Editor of Audiology Today for the American Academy of Audiology and past President and Journal Editor for the Educational Audiology Association. Dr. Schafer was honored with the UNT Office of Research and Innovation Teacher Scholar Award in 2017 and the Cheryl Deconde Johnson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Educational and Pediatric Audiology in 2013.

 

Contributions to Science:

The primary focus of my research is to improve the communication abilities and quality of life in adults and children who have hearing loss and auditory disorders. My research has significant clinical implications because it provides evidence to support the use of emerging hearing technologies for people using hearing aids and cochlear implants as well as people who have auditory-listening differences, such as those who have autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Descriptions of my primary lines of research and selected publications provided below.

 

1. Research on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Auditory Processing

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that among 8- to 11-year-old children, 1 in 54 have ASD, and the majority of these children experience global sensory and communication deficits. Parents of children with ASD report that hearing and listening difficulties are the first or second most prevalent sensory processing issue. The multidisciplinary research in my laboratory aims to (a) document specific auditory processing difficulties in children with ASD relative to neurotypical peers and (b) examine the efficacy and effectiveness of various interventions. We have completed multiple studies to assess how hearing technology, designed for individuals with normal hearing, may improve speech recognition in background noise, listening behaviors, and overall classroom performance. We continue to present the results of these studies at professional conferences for audiologists, teachers, administrators, and speech-language pathologists.

  • Gopal, K. V., Schafer, E. C., Mathews, L., Nandy, R, Beaudoin, D., Schadt, L., Brown, A., Phillips, B., Caldwell, J.  (2021). Effects of auditory training on electrophysiological measures in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 31(2), 96-104.
  • Schafer, E. C., Mathews, L., Gopal, K., Canale, E., Creech, A., Manning, J., Kaiser, K. (2020). Behavioral auditory processing in children and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 31(9), 680-689.
  • Schafer, E. C., Kirby, B., Miler, S. (2020). Remote microphone technology for children with hearing loss or auditory processing issues. Seminars in Hearing, 41(4), 1-14.
  • Schafer, E. C., Gopal, K. V., Mathews, L., Kaiser, K., Canale, E. Creech, A. (2019). Verification and validation of remote-microphone technology on children and college-age adults who have autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Educational, Pediatric, and (Re)Habilitative Audiology, 24, 1-7.
  • Schafer, E. C., Gopal, K., Mathews, L., Thompson, S., Kaiser, K., McCullough, S., Jones, J., Castillo, P., Canale, E., Hutcheson, A. (2018) Effects of auditory training and remote-microphone technology on the behavioral performance of children and young adults who have autism spectrum disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 30(5), 431-443.
  • Schafer, E. C., Wright, S., Anderson, C., Jones, J., Pitts, K., Bryant, D., Watson, M., Box, J., Neve, M., Matthews, L., Reed, M. P. (2016).  Assistive technology evaluations: Remote-microphone technology for children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Communication Disorders, 64, 1-17.
  • Schafer, E. C., Traber, J., Layden, P., Amin, A., Sanders, K., Bryant, D., & Baldus, N. (2014). Use of wireless technology for children with auditory processing disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and language disorders. Seminars in Hearing, 35(3), 193-205.
  • Schafer, E.C., Bryant, D., Sanders, K., Baldus, N., Algier, K., Lewis, A., Traber, J., Layden, P., Amin, A. (2014). Fitting and verification of frequency modulation (FM) systems on children with normal hearing. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 25(6), 529-540.
  • Schafer, E. C., Florence, S., Anderson, C., Dyson, J., Wright, S., Sanders, K., & Bryant, D. (2014). A critical review of remote-microphone technology for children with normal hearing and auditory differences.  Journal of Educational Audiology, 20, 1-11.
  • Schafer, E. C., Mathews, L., Mehta, S., Hill, M., Munoz, A., Bishop, R., & Maloney, M. (2013). Personal FM systems for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and/or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): An initial investigation. Journal of Communication Disorders, 46, 40-52.

 

2. Research Collaborations with the Auditory Implant Initiative

The non-profit Auditory Implant Initiative created a cochlear implant database to facilitate collaboration among hearing professionals, improve patient care, and create a framework for aggregate data sharing in cochlear implant research. Today, the database contains clinical data from approximately 10,000 patients. I collaborate with a team of professionals and researchers to analyze patient data with the goal of improving patient outcomes. In these studies, we describe the development of the database and analyze outcomes from patients of various ages. For example, one study shows that adults with public health insurance have poorer outcomes after implantation than adults with private insurance.

  • Grisel, J., Miller, S., Schafer, E. C. (2021). A novel performance-based paradigm of care for cochlear implant follow-up. Laryngoscope. In press.
  • Miller, S. E., Anderson, C., Manning, J., Schafer, E. (2020). Insurance payer status predicts post-operative speech outcomes in adult cochlear implant recipients. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 31(9), 666-673.
  • Dunn, C., Miller, S. E., Schafer, E. C., Silva, C. Gifford, R. H., Grisel, J. J. (2020). Benefits of a hearing registry: Cochlear implant candidacy in quiet versus noise in 1611 patients. American Journal of Audiology, 29(4), 851-861
  • Miller, S., Grisel, J., Schafer, E. (2019, Nov/Dec). The auditory implant initiative. Audiology Today, 30-38
  • Grisel, J. J., Schafer, E., Lam, A., Griffin, T. (2018). Pilot study on the use of data mining to identify cochlear implant candidates. Cochlear Implants International, 19(3), 142-146
  • Schafer, E. C., Grisel, J. J., de Jong, A., Ravelo, K., Lamb, A., Burke, M., Griffin, T., Winter, M., & Schrader, D. (2016). Creating a framework for data sharing in cochlear implant research. Cochlear Implants International, 24, 1-10.

 

3. Collaborative Research on Improving Speech Recognition in Noise with Cochlear Implants

Communicating in background noise is a pervasive problem for individuals with cochlear implants. These problems stem from a damaged auditory system as well as limitations in signal processing and hardware. Degraded performance in noise may result in substantial participation restrictions, activity limitations, and isolation from loved ones, friends, and co-workers. In the publications provided below, we investigated strategies to improve hearing in noise. Results of the studies show that front-end processing, remote-microphone technology, and bilateral input significantly improve speech understanding and perceived benefit with cochlear implants. This evidence-based, clinical research may be used by hearing healthcare professionals to support device requests from insurance companies and state-funded vocational programs or from public schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. I will continue this line of collaborative research on future technological advances in cochlear implants.

  • Miller, S., Wolfe, J., Neumann, S., Schafer, E. C., Galster, J., Agrawal, S. (2021). Remote microphone systems for cochlear implant recipients in small group settings. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology. In press.
  • Miller, S., Wolfe, J., Duke, M., Schafer, E., Agrawal, S., Koch, D., Neumann, S. (2020). Benefits of bilateral hearing on the telephone for cochlear implant recipients. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 32(3), 180-185.
  • Wolfe, J., Duke, M., Schafer, E., Jones, C., Rakita, L., Battles, J. (2020). Evaluation of a remote microphone system with tri-microphone beamformer. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology. 31(1), 50-60.
  • Wolfe, J., Neumann, S., Schafer, E., Marsh, M., Wood, M. Baker, S. (2017). Potential benefits of an integrated electric-acoustic (EAS) sound processor with children: A preliminary report. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 28(2), 127-140.
  • Wolfe, J., Gilbert, M., Schafer, E., Litvak, L. M., Spahr, A. J., Saoji, A., Finley, C. (2017). Optimizations for the electrically-evoked stapedial reflex threshold measurement in cochlear implant recipients. Ear & Hearing,38(2), 255-261
  • Wolfe, J., Neumann, S., Schafer, E., Marsh, M., Wood, M. Baker, S. (2016). Potential benefits of an integrated electric-acoustic (EAS) sound processor with children: A preliminary report. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 28(2), 127-140.
  • Wolfe, J., Morais, M., & Schafer, E. (2015). Improving hearing performance for cochlear implant recipients with use of a digital, wireless, remote-microphone, audio-streaming accessory. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 26(6), 532-539.
  • Wolfe, J., Neumann, S., Marsh, M., Schafer, E., Lianos, L., Gilden, J., O'Neill, L., Arki,s P., Menapace, C., Nel, E., Jones, M. (2015). Benefits of adaptive signal processing in a commercially available cochlear implant sound processor. Otology & Neurotology, 36(7), 1181-1190. 
  • Wolfe, J., Morais, M., Schafer, E., Agrawal, S., & Koch, D. (2015). Evaluation of speech recognition of cochlear implant recipients using adaptive, digital remote microphone technology and a speech enhancement sound processing algorithm. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 26(5), 502-508.
  • Schafer, E. C., Romine, D., Musgrave, E., Momin, S., & Huynh, C. (2013). Electromagnetic versus electrical coupling of personal frequency modulation (FM) receivers to cochlear implant sound processors. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 24(10), 927-940.
  • Schafer, E. C., Wolfe, J., Algier, K., Morais, M., Price, S., Monzingo, J., Beeler, S., & Ramos, H. (2012). Spatial hearing in noise of young children with cochlear implants and hearing aids. Journal of Educational Audiology, 18, 38-52.
  • Schafer, E. C., Huynh, C., Romine, D., Jimenez, R. (2012). Speech recognition in noise and subjective perceptions of neckloop FM receivers with cochlear implants. American Journal of Audiology, 22(1), 53-64.
Primary Research Interests: 

Assessing and managing hearing loss and auditory processing issues using hearing technology and auditory training.

940-369-7433
SPHC 266
Research Areas: 
Acquisition, Production, Processing