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Wartime growth and the birth of "Chicago Hearing Society"

The League began the 1940s by showing tangible success of its earlier efforts. A September 1940 League Bulletin listed 44 movie theaters in the Chicago area equipped with group hearing aids.

In early 1941, the League's name was changed to the Chicago Society for the Hard of Hearing in order to conform with the name of the national organization, the American Society for the Hard of Hearing.

In December 1941, the Society opened its Hearing Aid Bureau to give individuals an opportunity to try hearing aids under neutral conditions.

For the first time, professional social workers were added to the staff. In 1942, the Society hired its first Executive Secretary, Mary L. Thompson, who would remain in the position until 1970.

The 1940s were also an important time financially. In 1943, the Society received its first allocation from the Community Fund of Chicago. The first Woman's Board was formed in 1949 and the results of its benefit card part were "greater than for any of the Society's previous benefits."

In 1945, the Society arranged its first meeting for parents of deaf children. In 1946, the Society started a class for mothers of deaf pre-school children, and with the Parkway Community Center, began an after-school play group for deaf children. By 1947, a parent group was formed for mothers and fathers of deaf and hard of hearing children and began to meet monthly.

In 1947, the Society moved to 30 West Washington Street. In order to reflect its broad interest in all aspects of hearing problems, the Society changed its name to Chicago Hearing Society (CHS).

National Hearing Week

A Chicago Hearing Society display for
National Hearing Week (1955).

In 1951, CHS completed a two-year hearing conservation demonstration project. Of the 22,000 children tested, 3,000 were found to be in need of ear examinations. Of the more than 1,000 who had ear examinations, over 60 percent were not previously known to have a hearing problem. Based on these results, the Chicago Board of Education assumed financial and administrative responsibility for the program.

In 1953, the CHS used a grant from the Wieboldt Foundation to begin a three-year project to provide recreation programs to combat the isolation experienced by most deaf children. When the grant ended, CHS continued the project as one of its regular programs.

CHS ended the decade by presenting its first live half-hour TV program "On the Other Side of Sound." A kinescope was made of the show and used locally and in other cities to educate viewers about hearing problems.

Next: Continued public outreach and the first lessons in American Sign Language



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