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Continued public outreach and the first lessons in American Sign Language

During the sixties, CHS continued reaching the public through television. In 1961, CHS acted in an advisory capacity to WTTW in developing a special weekly television program for deaf and hard of hearing children. CHS also sponsored the television series "Let's Lip-read" in conjunction with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, which ran weekly from September 7 through December 13 in 1965. More than 42,000 people purchased the lip-reading manual to accompany the program. Due to popular demand, the series was repeated in 1966.

In the late 1960s, CHS developed a Health Education Program and secured two major projects - an innovative program of lip-reading and hearing rehabilitation for the elderly which was funded with state and federal funds, and a federally funded pilot project investigating the psychological and social aspects of hearing loss among the elderly.

One of the final projects undertaken by Executive Secretary Mary Thompson prior to her retirement was the planning and execution of Chicago's first symposium on the effects of noise on man. One outcome of the symposium was the establishment of CHS's program of consultation and direct services to industries in the field of hearing test and conservation. Miss Thompson was succeeded as Executive Director by Dr. William Plotkin in 1970.

With Dr. Plotkin at the helm, CHS began developing a more vigorous approach to programs for the deaf community. In 1970, CHS offered its first class in American Sign Language for persons with normal hearing who wish to communicate with the deaf. Attendance at the early classes averaged 12 people per week. Within a few years, the sign language instruction program had grown to become one of CHS's major services.

1960 Chicago Hearing Society Young Adults

Members of a Chicago Hearing Society young adults
group twist the night away in this photo from
the early 1960's.

In the fall of 1972, CHS received a major grant from the Chicago Community Trust to establish the first counseling program for deaf people in Illinois.

In 1973, CHS moved to 178 West Randolph Street. The move was prompted by the need to cut overhead costs in the face of a recession and an increasing concern with fundraising activities. In 1977, the CHS Board of Directors passed a resolution requiring each Board member to be responsible for raising at least $1,000.

In 1975, CHS began its long involvement with the Fone-A-Test program. Supported in the beginning by Beltone, the recorded telephone hearing test was used by more than 200,000 people its first year.

In 1978, CHS moved to 6 East Monroe Street, and Dr. Plotkin resigned a year later after almost a decade of service as executive director. In the late 1970s, CHS began offering training programs for sign language interpreters, and in March 1979, established Illinois' first sign language interpreter referral service.

Led by Mary Mulcrone, the program showed revenue of $58,948 in 1981 - its first full year of service - and would grow over the years to become one of CHS's major services.

Next: Financial prosperity, program growth and a major merger



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