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Audiology at CHS - 75 years of leadership and innovation

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By Rex Banks, M.A. CCC-A. Reg. CASLPO, Chief Audiologist

Since 1940, CHS has embraced the field of audiology, proving itself to be both a leader and innovator in the early days of the profession in Canada. Along with establishing a national agency concerning itself with jobs for the Deaf and hard of hearing, the standardization and costs of hearing aids, rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, and the distribution of expertise and information were key components of the original CHS mandate.

In June 1940, noted otologist Dr. G.A. Fee was retained as a medical consultant to CHS. Dr. Fee examined about 25% of all new clients, administered functional tests with and without hearing aids, and advised clients about possible benefits from treatment, hearing aids and lip-reading. Additionally, Dr. Fee answered outside inquiries on behalf of CHS.

When the Second World War ended in 1945, much of CHS’s work was focused on helping veterans who had returned from war service with severe hearing loss. CHS obtained a grant from the Department of Veteran Affairs to assist in providing amplification to deafened servicemen. At the same time and for the same reasons, the profession of audiology was a burgeoning industry in the US. Already, CHS’s sense of the necessity of audiology was proving to be cutting edge and revolutionary.

In 1952, CHS purchased its first audiometer at a cost of $845. Today, a high quality audiometer costs about $10,000. This was a significant expenditure at the time, but was deemed important and necessary as CHS began exploring this component of service. In 1962, a soundproof room and audiometer were installed at head office in Toronto. Two staff people were trained to administer hearing tests while the search for an audiologist commenced – an ambitious undertaking as there were no Canadian audiology training programs in existence at the time.

Hearing healthcare further improved with the construction of the audiology department in the old garage of 60 Bedford Road in Toronto. In 1967, audiologist Errol Davis was hired. The CHS audiology department provided the only independent hearing aid selection service in Toronto and set the standard for audiology clinics in teaching hospitals in Toronto and throughout the province.

In 1977, CHS established the Hearing Aid Program. In the first year, there were offices in Toronto, Windsor, London, Thunder Bay and Barrie. Additionally, Dr. Phillip Wade became the resident Ear, Nose and Throat specialist in 1979.

In the mid-1980s, CHS advised the Chairman of the Health Professions Legislation Review Commission that it supported the regulation of audiologists as long as they could both prescribe and sell hearing aids. And after the Minister of Health announced the details of the newly established Assistive Devices Program, CHS was contacted to provide expertise and administration to the Hearing Aid Services Monitoring Board (later known as the Advisory Committee on Hearing Aid Services). Fast forward to present time, CHS remains a trusted consultant to the government in the area of hearing loss. Additionally, CHS’s audiology department is often called upon by the media to comment on emerging issues about hearing loss.

Today, CHS has modern state-of-the-art audiology facilities located in key CHS offices throughout the province, offering an array of services including hearing testing, hearing aids, tinnitus consultations and more. The program plays a significant role in the education of the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology as well as other professions within CHS. It is a recognized training site for all university Audiology Programs in Canada and the Speech-Language Pathology Program at the University of Toronto.

The audiology department remains integral to the fabric of CHS, touching virtually every department. Trust, charity, neutrality, price and expertise are the reasons why ever year thousands of people choose CHS as their audiology provider.

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