Over 110 Years of
Service and Leadership
2001: Merger of United Hearing and Deaf Services in FL
1910: A sound start
Our nonprofit organization was founded under the name Nitchie Service League, Inc. (later to become League for the Hard of Hearing) by educator Edward B. Nitchie to improve the quality of life for people of all ages with hearing loss.
Mr. Nitchie himself was deaf; he experienced a period of deep despair, isolation, and joblessness. His friends sought to ease his unnecessary suffering, as well as that of others with hearing loss. Their work together inspired the birth of our agency.
1918: Reading lips and finding work
Now known as the “League,” our predecessors impart the latest and innovative services of the day: they taught lipreading to people who were deaf or hard of hearing and helped them find gainful employment.
In these years, the League holds yearly lipreading contests in which contestants compete at deciphering mouth movements of a speaker with no sound.
To this day, the Center for Hearing and Communication in NYC provides speech and language therapy and instruction for lipreading, now called speechreading; CHC in Florida offers employment services.
1925: The very first to wire a theater for better listening
The agency determines that making their annual meetings and specials events hearing accessible is essential for our mission. During the 1925 annual meeting, copper wires from stage to seating amplified speakers’ voices via early assistive listening devices (ALDs).
Many members of the League family who could not hear the meetings in the past instantly become part of the action. Today, all of our meetings and events are fully accessible with real-time captioning, infrared listening systems, and sign language interpreters.
1927: Conducting the first hearing survey of students
“League” representatives visit public schools in New York City to efficiently check the hearing of a large number of students. New York City begins to mandate in-school hearing tests to identify hearing loss at a younger age.
1935: Early charitable status is achieved
The League received its IRS 501(c)(3) certification long before the nonprofit organization sector was well recognized, when such accreditations were not commonplace. Throughout the decades, our agency has applied the gifts of donors directly toward our work improving lives.
1937: Setting a precedent: early diagnosis and intervention
We initiate what is now common practice of hearing and speech therapy for children under the age of five. A child is never too young to begin communication therapy, and the sooner treatment begins, the better the child’s chances are of developing successful speech, language, and comprehension.
Intervention before age five was a novel approach in this period, and the League led the field in starting sooner. Today, at the Shelley and Steven Einhorn Communication Center, we fit babies as young as six weeks with amplification and get them started in communication therapy.
1939: A kindred spirit in Eleanor Roosevelt
The First Lady visits our Manhattan office, beginning a long association (shown here in 1951 visit). The Roosevelts passionately support the “League;” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt even writes acknowledgment letters to the organization for annual campaigns and events. Commending our participation in National Hearing Week, FRD expressed his “most sincere best wishes for the success of your efforts.”
1972: Going mobile with the hearing van
Our first mobile testing unit hits NYC streets, offering free hearing screenings to the public. The sight of this testing booth on wheels sends a message throughout the city that hearing screenings should be part of everyone’s overall health maintenance plan and give people access to hearing screenings right in their neighborhood.
Today, our (updated) mobile unit travels to preschools, health fairs, and senior centers, screening approximately 10,000 New Yorkers each year.
1996: The noise heard ‘round the world
We found and celebrate the first annual International Noise Awareness Day, calling attention to the dangers of long-term exposure to noise. Hearing screenings, information sessions, and public service announcements inform the public that noise can be much more than an annoyance.
International Noise Awareness Day has since become a global phenomenon, with the participation of at least 50 countries!
2001: CHC Merged with United Hearing and Deaf Services in FL
The merger brought together two Centers of Excellence providing services for people with hearing loss in NYC and Fort Lauderdale.
2005: The P.A.T.H. to healthy hearing
Project P.A.T.H. (Preschool Access To Hearing) hits the road, providing hearing healthcare to underserved NYC preschoolers aboard the mobile unit. Clinicians identify children who may have an undiagnosed hearing loss, give parents resources and referrals, and teach educators about the prevalence, symptoms, and how to accommodate hearing loss and the classroom.
To date, more than 25,000 preschoolers have been screened.
CHC has long advocated for early identification of hearing loss in children. In the 1950s, the agency began one of the first intervention programs for young children with hearing loss. Sixty years ago, five years old was considered remarkably “young” for a hearing loss diagnosis, but the agency pushed to promote best practices that make intervention as early as possible de rigueur. Today, earlier intervention is possible and well recognized as hugely beneficial—now, our challenge is to avail the benefits of childhood hearing loss intervention to those most vulnerable.
2009: Newly named
The League for the Hard of Hearing becomes the Center for Hearing and Communication. After surveys tell us the proposed new name will make it much clearer to people what we do, we prepare to start our second century of services with a new identity—but the same mission.
2009: Launch of the one-and-only “Listening Studio”
We imagine, design, and construct a new kind of audiology “booth” to give our clients a better feel for how their hearing devices will work in the real world. The Listening Studio experience simulates over 500 true to life listening environments for hearing technology users while our audiologists can fine-tune devices’ digital programs in real-time.
Be on a subway platform, in a quiet office, at a restaurant, or on the sidewalk as traffic rumbles by from this beautiful, state-of-the-art installation. Interested? Make an appointment.
2010: We turn 100!
The Center for Hearing and Communication marks this banner year with devotion to continue excellence in care for all who need us for another century. Our centennial gala is a huge success, poising CHC to reach new heights.
2010: Leading the field in a new kind of “hearing” challenge
With highly specialized and rare expertise around a little-known condition called Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), CHC launches the Auditory Processing Center. APD can cause bewildering learning and language problems in children that in some ways resemble hearing loss—but the ears of those affected hear “normally.” The problem is in the way the brain translates sound and speech.
The Auditory Processing Center provides consultations for parents, in person and via live video sessions; and diagnostic and therapeutic services. Families from the New York City area and all over the world come here for the best care available.
2012: Targeting an age-old problem in a new way
We’ve known since the start that older folks with age-related hearing loss benefit hugely from using hearing technology and communication strategies. It helps people stay engaged, independent, and healthy, and enjoy more of life.
New research breaks that untreated hearing loss can actually increase risk or speed up cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease. CHC takes action by founding the Center for Hearing and Aging, with the help of generous donors, to develop a new, specialized program to help people stay connected in the later years and investigate best practices. Treating hearing loss and encouraging new ways to communicate makes it easier for those in their later years and their families.