Who… What… Where… When… Why?????

Anyone involved in elementary education, whether from the delivery or to the receiving end, will be familiar with one of the cornerstones, namely, mastery of the WH questions. Mastery involves formulating the question as well as answering at least in proper syntax. Content, of course, is expected to be relevant but has the potential of being in error. At the risk of being considered presumptuous, I shall attempt to provide our readers with relevant answers to the WH questions as they pertain to Auditory-Verbal International.

WHO ARE WE? At our inception in 1978, we were a small band of professionals and/or parents who were involved in what has come to be known as the Auditory-Verbal approach to developing an unusually natural form of oral communication for hearing-impaired children—even those with profound losses.

WHAT IS AUDITORY-VERBAL INTERNATIONAL? It is a non-profit organization, an outgrowth of the original small band which for the past seven years has been affiliated with the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf but is now an independent corporation. Our membership is open to anyone who is interested in learning about and in promoting our purpose. Our purpose is to make available to every parent or caretaker of a hearing-impaired child the option of following the Auditory-Verbal approach.

WHAT IS THE AUDITORY-VERBAL APPROACH? It involves training the child to use even minimal amounts of residual hearing to develop spontaneous speech and to process language in a natural way through auditory pathways. This can be done in most cases if the criteria of the approach are fulfilled.

WHERE ARE WE? Geographically, our membership is from most of the fifty United States, a large proportion from Canada, and besides Mexico, from sixteen foreign countries. Our board of directors is made up of professionals, physicians, and parents, located in Canada, Switzerland and eleven of the United States. Where are Auditory-Verbal centers? Regretfully, there are not nearly enough locations. We hope to make available very soon a list of centers or individuals to be consulted as to where this type of service can be found. To date, we have given workshops in Los Angeles, California; Mexico City; Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama; Staunton, Virginia; Biloxi, Mississippi; Tempe, Arizona; Chicago, Illinois; Ottawa, Canada; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

WHEN DID THE PHILOSOPHY OF THIS APPROACH ORIGINATE? At the turn of the century in Vienna, Urbantschitsch taught the philosophy and Max Goldstein brought the idea to St. Louis in the 1920’s. After World War II with the advent of wearable hearing aids, it was developed by several pioneers: Doreen Pollack and the present writer in the United States, Huizing in Holland, Whetnall in England, and subsequently a pupil of hers in the United States, Ciwa Griffith, and Agnes and Daniel Ling in Canada.

WHY ARE WE ORGANIZED? Our general purpose has really never changed. While we first considered approaching the universities which were training professionals, now mostly labeled departments of communication disorders, we decided to first demonstrate and educate through workshops and lectures the advantages of an Auditory-Verbal approach. We are still doing so but shall now direct special attention to developing a protocol for establishing criteria for certified Auditory-Verbal specialists. This need has been expressed by many parents and professionals. If any of our readers are in a position to assist this effort by further promotion of this cause, we need your help. Help us educate the public and the medical and teaching professions about the urgency of support for such a program and of requesting it in areas where it is not available.

WHY? also suggests the frequently posed question, “Why, if this approach demonstrates great advantages, has it not been more generally adopted by educators of the hearing-impaired child?” With some temerity, I offer several explanations. 1. Professionals fail to grasp the difference between Auditory-Verbal and other oral approaches, sometimes called oral-auditory, aural-oral, etc. (See Newsounds, A.G. Bell, April 1986.) 2. This approach requires a great deal of input form parents who must be convinced that the result is worth the effort. 3. Parents need public support. (In Canada they have it) 4. The approach requires harder work by the therapist and the parents. 5. It has not been considered by enough university training programs to provide adequate personnel.

Auditory-Verbal International’s board of directors has projected very specific goals to overcome some of the barriers alluded to above. We are involving ourselves in research and in infiltrating the academic programs responsible for education speech pathologists, audiologists, educators and physicians who might touch the lives of hearing-impaired children.

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