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UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries


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Archive for the 'NID or RNID history' Category

Michael Reed OBE, teacher, psychologist, & RNID Chairman 1975-85

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 November 2018

Michael Reed, (1913-99) was a psychologist, audiologist, and teacher of the deaf, and was the first educational psychologist in England to work with deaf children.  He was employed at the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, Gray’s Inn Road, London, from 1949-1961.  He then moved to the Inner London Education Authority as Her Majesty’s Inspector for Special Education, with responsibility for deaf pupils.  He remained there until his retirement in 1978, and then settled in Canada in 1989.

Michael Reed was the author of the Reed Picture Screening Test (see below) and Educating hearing impaired children, published by the Open University Press in 1984.

He had a long involvement with the NID/RNID.  He was co-opted onto the NID Medical and Scientific Committee in 1956, then elected onto the Council of Management in 1957.  He became Vice-Chairman of the RNID in 1972, and Chair from 1975-85.

In 1986 he was awarded the OBE and created a Vice-President of the RNID for life.

Here we see him in 1984, in the centre, flanked by Tom and Brenda Sutcliffe, from the then RNID magazine, Soundbarrier.

AKHURST, B.A. Michael Reed OBE 1913-1999. Psychologist, 2000, Jul, 2000, p.338.

REED PICTURE SCREENING TEST FOR HEARING This was a set of pictures of everyday objects for screening primary school children’s hearing, devised by Michael Reed and published by the RNID in 1960.

He uses the language of the time – ‘defect’ sounds uncomfortable to us now, and probably did in the 1960s to some.

THERE IS NO DOUBT that the earlier a hearing defect is discovered the more the handicap caused by such a defect can be alleviated. The picture presented by severe or total deafness is all too obvious, but in the case of slight or moderate deafness, the picture is sometimes more obscure. Many children have been thought to be mentally very dull when, in fact, they have been partially or severely deaf. Frequently they had become frustrated and non-co-operative and therefore it had become difficult to establish the true facts. Many simple cases of deafness have been misdiagnosed because a complete understanding of the effects of distorted hearing or slight hearing losses has been lacking. Children with slight hearing losses which are not obvious may become educationally retarded in the adverse noise conditions of a class-room. Therefore it is extremely important to discover any significant hearing loss as soon as possible in order to be aware of the problem and so help the child. If there is a slight loss of hearing for all frequencies throughout the speech range, or severe loss for frequencies above 1000Hz, there will be some disability in discriminating between consonants. The R.N.I.D. Picture Screening Test has been designed around this simple fact. It is interesting to children and therefore fairly certain of ensuring their co-operation, and is easy both to carry around and to use.
The test is made up of several separate cards each of which has four pictures. The names of the pictures conform with the following conditions.

1. The words must be monosyllabic so that the rhythm of that word does not give a clue.

2. The words in any one row must contain the same vowel sound.

3. The words must be those within the vocabulary of the children to be tested.

The test as designed here can be used for children with a mental age of four years and older and with many children of mental age of three years. To ensure that the child to be tested knows the name of the picture, he is told how to name the pictures first, especially with very young children. If the child calls the owl a bird, one says ‘That’s right but I am going to call it an owl.’ Similarly if the hen is called a chicken, or the sheep a lamb, or the lamb a sheep, he is told that it is to be called a hen a sheep and a lamb so that the words do have the common vowel sound. If the child does not know any words then one cannot test in this way and if in doubt, a full audiometric examination must be requested.

REED, M. A verbal screening test for hearing. proceedings of the 3rd World Congress of the Deaf, Weisbaden, 1959. Deutschen-Gerhorlosen-Bundes, 1961. pp. 195-97.

HOLDING, B., HOLDING, J. and OWEN, A. Prawf clyw darluniadol Dyfed. British Journal of Audiology, 1987, 21. 147. (Welsh version)

McCORMICK, B. Screening young children for hearing impairment. Whurr, 1994. pp. 76-77.

Guild of St. John of Beverley stained glass windows from Ephphatha House, Ealing, 1928

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 30 June 2017

MemorialStained glass aIn our collection of artifacts, we have, bizarrely, three stained glass windows.  The windows were placed at 5 Grange Road, Ephphatha House, where Selwyn and Kate Oxley moved to when they got married in 1929.  Oxley’s mother bought the house on his behalf, originally as a home for the library of the Guild of St. John of Beverley.  The Guild deserves an entry of its own on the blog, for it was a repeating theme in Oxley’s life, & before his time it had its beginnings in the North of England with Ernest Abrahams and George Stephenson, among others.  When Oxley discovered it he seems to have taken it over, and as he wife mentions several times in her biography of him, Man with a Mission, he loved ceremonies and the associated ‘dressing up.’  Essentially it was a religious organisation, that particularly in the early years of the century, involved a sort of pilgrimage to Beverley, or at least annual services commemorating him and his ‘miracle’ healing a deaf man.

JesusI am not sure who the artist was, but Katherine Oxley says they were done by

a Hard of Hearing man, who had been in the employment of Messrs. Ward and Hughes of 67 Frith Street, Soho, above whose works the National Institute for the Deaf had at one time rented offices.
This firm had done work in All Saints’ Church, Petersham, Surrey, under the Vicariate of the late Rev. W.H. Oxley, and this was the last bit of work done by them as a firm, as soon after they suspended business.  The panels themselves are a work of art, depicting Our Lord healing the Deaf Man, and are flanked on each side by scenes portraying the miracles of St. John of Beverley and Francis of Sales.  The colours blended with a simple but strikingly effective beauty, especially when the rays of the sun caught them.

St JThey were unveiled in situ on the staircase by the Guild Warden, the Rev. W. Raper, ‘in his robes of office, carried the business through with a grave dignity’ (K. Oxley, 1953).  I have chosen the two smaller ones to photograph, as the St. John one is rather larger & harder to get out.

They were not in place too long before the Oxleys moved out of London.  I suppose that they came to us from Kate Oxley.

Oxley, K. A Man withe a Mission, 1953, Hill and Ainsworth

Oxley, Selwyn, The Seventeenth Annual Report of general Honorary Work Done for the Deaf… Year ending 1929Sales faces

The early NID Technical Department, Dennis B. Fry and Péter B. Dénes of UCL

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 December 2016

UCL has had an association with the RNID/Action on Hearing Loss Library since the early 1990s when the library moved into the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital alongside the then Institute of Laryngology Library.  However there is a much older association between UCL and what was then the NID.

Giant hearing Aid War time developments in electronics ushered in an era when mass hearing aids would be small enough to be convenient to carry around, and cheap enough for the state to introduce the Medresco hearing aid supplied by the new NHS from 1948.  The previous year the transistor had been unveiled by Bell labs in the US, an invention that would change the world.

For many years the NID had been concerned over the quality of hearing aids and they way they were marketed to the public.  They worked with manufacturers and suppliers to create an agreement whereby the supplier made no claims about curing deafness, as had often been the case with quack sellers, and broadly to not bully clients into buying unwanted devices.  They also created an approved list of suppliers who signed up to the agreement.  This was a slightly tortuous process, and for those interested a visit to the library to read NID minutes would be essential.  The list is attached here: NID approved list

Anechoic ChamberIn 1947 The NID set up a technical department, at the behest of the Medical Committee (Annual Report, 1947 p.9).  At the time they were in 105 Gower Street, and did not have facilities, so initially UCL helped out, and Dennis Butler Fry (1907-84) led the efforts to establish testing to show the ‘technical characteristics and qualities of the various hearing aids’ which were available, and then publish this scientific information to the public (Denes & Fry p.304).

Fry was born on the 3rd of November, 1907, in Stockbridge, Hampshire, son of Fred Cornelius Fry and Jane Ann Butler.

After five years of teaching French, first at Tewkesbury Grammar School and then at Kilburn Grammar School, in 1934 he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in Phonetics at University College London, where he also became Superintendent of the Phonetics Laboratory in 1937.  In 1938 he was promoted to Lecturer in Experimental Phonetics. In 1948, the year after the award of his Ph.D. degree, he became Reader in Experimental Phonetics.  From 1958 until his retirement in 1975, he was Professor of Experimental Phonetics, the first one to hold the title in Britain. (Obituary for Dennis Butler Fry, Arthur S. Abramson

The 1947 annual report records that with the co-operation of Sir David Pye, UCL provost and mechanical engineer who worked on jet engines during the war, they were setting up a special sound-proof room, and that technical staff would be trained at the college, all under the supervision of Fry.  Fry had served in the RAF during the war, at the Acoustics Research Laboratory, Central Medical Establishment, at Kelvin House, 24-32 Cleveland Street, London.  Together with his colleague Péter B. Dénes (1920-96), a Hungarian phonetician who became a British citizen, but spent much of his later working life in the USA.  The books of Fry and Dénes (usually written Denes) on phonetics are still in use today.  Fry founded the journal Speech and Language in 1958. He wrote two books with Edith Whetnall (they are pictured together below), The Deaf Child, and Learning to Hear.

Denes had left Hungary in the 1930s and studied first at Manchester, before moving to UCL where he worked with Fry.  In 1961 he went to the USA on the Queen Mary to work at the Bell Labs (1996 obituary, see link below).  In his obituary, Michael Noll says,

Although Hungarian by birth, Peter was very much British by citizenship and personality. His knowledge of European history and views on events in America led to many lively discussions with his many friends and colleagues. Peter chose to remain a subject of the Queen of England, but he also chose to live in the United States.

The room in the basement of 105 was eventually fitted out for technical testing, along with the anechoic chamber.  In those days the road traffic would not have been as bad as now, and I suspect it would not have been possible to use it today, because of vibrations.  The first technician seems to have been Mr W.J. Markwick, who is mentioned in the 1950 annual report (p.33).  The Technical department became one of the most important areas for the NID in the following decade.

I am sure this would be an interesting area for research.  Denes and Fry were both interesting people who made significant contributions to speech and language research.

Fry Whetnall

Denes, P. and Fry, D.B. An Introduction to the NID Technical Research Laboratory

NID Annual Reports

Abramson, Arthur S. Obituary for Dennis Butler Fry. Speech Communication Volume 3, Issue 2, August 1984, Pages 167-168


Noll, Michael, Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 100, No. 4, Pt. 1, October 1996, p.1916 http://asa.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1121/1.417840

A.J. Story, Teacher of the Deaf and first secretary of the National Institute for the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 16 March 2012

STORY, Arthur John (1864-1938)

Teacher of the deaf, Head of Stoke School 1896-1925, and active in the foundation of the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf, Story was born in Rochester, Kent, in 1864.  He began teaching in 1878 at an elementary school there. After attending teacher training college at  St.Peter’s College, Peterborough, he joined the staff of the Royal School for Deaf and Dumb Children, Margate, where he stayed for three years under the then head, Dr. Richard Elliott. He went on to gain further experience teaching at both the Manchester and Derby Institutions, and at the age of 32 (1896) was appointed Headmaster at the newly established North Staffs (Stoke) School, the first residential local authority school established after the Elementary Education Blind and Deaf Children Act of 1893 made the education of deaf children compulsory, placing the duty to provide that education onto the Local School Boards (see Stainer in a previous post).

As an author, Story wrote a number of very influential works which spread his ideas and methods across education of Deaf children in the U.K., for example Speech for the deaf (1901), Language for the deaf: a book for the use of teachers (1905 and 1927), Speech reading for the deaf – not dumb: a book for the use of those who have become deaf after having naturally acquired, through hearing, a knowledge of the English Language (1925), Speech reading and speech for the deaf (1915), etc.

Editor of Teacher of the Deaf for 18 years from 1903 when it began, Arthur Story was twice Chairman of the National College of Teachers of the Deaf (1910-11, and 1920-21),  as well as fulfilling many other roles. He married Jane Turner, also a teacher of the deaf, in 1895, but she died in 1928.

Story played a key role in the foundation of the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf in 1911, and when the organisation was reconstituted in 1925 as the National Institute for the Deaf he became its first secretary. Clearly a man of organisational ability, Story “infused new life into its activities” and in 1933 was able to oversee the move from cramped quarters to a new office in Gower St, which reamained home of the N.I.D. and R.N.I.D to the 1990s. The N.I.D. wrote, “he was keenly interested in endeavouring to obtain by means of an Act of Parliament privileges for the deaf similar to those already enjoyed by the blind.” He instigated the move of the Home for Deaf Women from Walcot Parade in Bath to new premises, the new ‘Richardson Home’ in the Midlands, as well as the Hostel for Working Lads in North London. He also established the District Associations of the N.I.D.

Story seems to have been appreciated if not loved. Carey Roe does not pull any punches in his obituary. He says,

I first came into contact with him, as a boy, about forty-five years ago – he gave me my first lessons in swimming and clay-modelling – and from the beginning I had for his work and for himself a very sincere admiration. From Derby, where he was Head Assistant to my father, Story went as Headmaster to Stoke, where seven or eight years later I became a junior member of his staff and for five years worked under his inspiration and guidance. Those years made a deep impression upon me at the time and I owe much to him not only for what he taught but for what he practiced; Story was no easy taskmaster, but he himself set the example in hard work and one valued his informed comments and criticisms, tinged as they often were with irony which helped if anything to impress his points. Perhaps it was at this stage that I acquired an immunity to Story’s tendency to sarcasm – it was part of the man – which others of his colleagues found somewhat trying at times.

Carey Roe goes on to compare him with other teachers of his age –

Story was not always an easy man to work with; he was apt to be very definite in his views and not at all hesitant about saying what he thought of those who differed from him. But, all in all, he was a great man, a personality, and he gave unstintingly of his time, his energy and his great ability to promote the cause he had at heart. Story is the last of a great trio of men- Nelson, Barnes and Story – who for twenty years, each in his own way, were the dominating figures of deaf education.

Perhaps a more kindly conclusion would be to quote W.R. [possibly the Rev. William Raper?] in the British Deaf Times;

Mr.Story and Mr.Frank Barnes, his great friend, may be called the originators of the N.I.D., formed from the Leo Bonn Bureau. We were present at its inaugural meeting, voting and subscribing on the occasion. The writer of this notice being somewhat deaf, Mr.Story kindly gave him an electrical hearing aid.

The Picture shows Story at work in his N.I.D. office.

Late Mr. Arthur J. Story.British Deaf Times, Vol.35, September-October 1938, p.132

The Late Arthur John Story, NID Annual Report 1937-8, 16-17 (photo)

W. Carey Roe, Arthur John Story, “At rest”, September 11th, 1938. Teacher of the Deaf, Vol.36, October 1938, No. 215 p. 161-2.

“The Times” and Mr. Story. Teacher of the Deaf, Vol.36, October 1938, No. 215 p. 163

Lord Charnwood and the National Institute for the Deaf, 1924-35

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 February 2012

Lord Charnwood

Lord CHARNWOOD (1864-1945), was born Godfrey Rathbone Dawson in Hampshire in 1864.  He was the son of a Hampshire barrister of Quaker stock.  One of his brothers Sir Francis Benson became a noted Shakesperean actor, while the eldest brother was the great arts and Crafts designer, William Benson.

Although the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf was formed by Leo Bonn in 1911, it fell into a period of quiet and relative inactivity due partly to the First World War. The need for a national umbrella organisation for all the various deaf related charities and institutes still existed however.  The response came by giving the Bureau a new name and putting it on a more solid basis in finance and administration. In March 1924,  Lord Charnwood became the first President of the re-constituted body, the National Institute for the Deaf (N.I.D.). It was  a post he held until 1935 when it was taken up by the Duke of Montrose.  Charnwood had been introduced to charitable work involving the Deaf by A. J. Story, and became involved with the work of the National College of Teachers of the Deaf as President in 1923. In his address to the Kingsway Hall meeting setting up the N.I.D. on March 19th 1924, Charnwood said,

I have two things that ought to be said about the deaf. Their misfortune is not one that instantly appeals to sympathy. Everyone sympathises with the blind. You do not instantly discover that the deaf are deaf. I confess frankly myself, that my inclination is to be irritated with the person who is deaf. It is not sufficiently appreciated that a person who is deaf from birth or from a very early period of life is really shut out, at any rate from the earliest and most important years of life, from the improvements of mental development which are open to the rest of us, even to the blind.

Though admirable work is done in many parts of the country, there does not exist at this moment anything like a central national organisation charged with looking after the general interests and welfare of the deaf.

Charnwood was a Liberal MP for a few years, then was called to the bar. He was deeply interested in Church affairs. “His own personal views on religion were set out in a very candid study of St John’s gospel, According to St. John (1926), and, in revised form, in A Personal Conviction (1928)” (Oxford DNB). He also wrote a highly acclaimed biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Obituary. Teacher of the Deaf, 1945, 43, 22. (photo between p. 20 and p. 21)

NID Annual Reports

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (entries for all three brothers)