Our Deaf Heritage
Last January, I posted Our Deaf Heritage, that confirmed deafness in the Boling/Bolling/Bowling and Randolph families’ ancestors from the 1700’s in England and Virginia, and how they were responsible for founding the first schools for the hearing impaired in America, and later, the infamous Gallaudet University in the District of Columbia. Gallaudet was established in 1864 by an Act of Congress, and its charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
Remembering The Pioneering Audiologist Who Tested Hearing At Birth
This morning, I came upon yesterday’s NPR post that pays tribute to Dr. Marion Downs (January 26, 1914 – November 13, 2014)–nearly 101 years old at the time of her demise. Dr. Downs, the mother of pediatric audiology, was a pioneering audiologist and Professor Emerita at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver. She pioneered universal newborn hearing screening in the early 1960s, then spent more than 30 years trying to convince her peers to adopt the testing in hospitals and to place hearing aids on infants who showed a hearing loss. She worked 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.
This woman and NPR’s article honoring her is meaningful to me because today’s descendants of the Boling/Bolling/Bowling and Randolph families still have some members who have varying degrees of hearing loss from infants through our elderly. We noticed one of our grandson’s problems with hearing, speaking, and early frustrations with certain sounds and volumes. It was because we as a family were tenacious and unrelenting in search of the source and solutions for his problems that today, at 12, he hears, speaks, and interacts appropriately with others. In his case, he went to speech pathology for a couple of years; otherwise, his condition improved. Although, still today, he and his mother are still very sensitive to and easily distracted by certain sounds and noises.