On July 11, 1934, with the help of Dr. Otto Joachim, the League for the Hard of Hearing was incorporated to serve the needs of hearing impaired/deaf children in New Orleans. The League was housed at the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital at 145 Elk Place and was primarily an educational program for children. The name was changed to the Louisiana League for the Hard of Hearing on November 7, 1938. There was another name change to the New Orleans League for Better Hearing on November 18, 1946.
The New Orleans Speech and Hearing Center, as it
currently operates, was incorporated on April 30, 1959. With this change, the services of the Center
expanded to include the diagnosis and treatment of speech and hearing disorders
for the community.
When told that the Center would have to move from its
two-room offices in the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital at Elk Place
volunteers responded to the challenge.
With the help of Dr. Suzanne Schaeffer, a local pediatrician who
recognized the importance of services to children with speech and hearing
disorders, and David M. Baird, a philanthropist in New York, the Center
purchased, renovated and moved to the current facility at 1636 Toledano Street. The building was sold to the Center on
October 27, 1965 and in March 1967 Susan Kohlmeyer, a child, formally opened
the Center at its new home.
Dr. Jack Rosen was the Center’s director from 1959
until his retirement in 1980. He
continued as a consultant until 1985. Jack
died in April 1993. Jack was
instrumental in changing the focus of the Center to one of service delivery to
the community and introduced treatment of reading disorders by speech language
pathologists, a controversial concept at the time. Lesley Jernigan became the Executive Director
on January 2, 1985. He had previously
worked at the Center as a staff Speech Language Pathologist and Clinic
Coordinator from 1979 – 1981.
As the need for services expanded, satellite offices
were opened at 1820 Franklin Avenue in Gretna on the West Bank in 1977 and in
Slidell in 1978. With the oil crash of
the mid-80’s, the satellites caused a severe financial loss for the Center and
the West Bank facility was closed in 1987.
Free space was secured to provide services, but, once all clinical staff
secured other jobs, services on the West Bank were terminated. The Slidell office closed in August 1989 when
the sole Speech Language Pathologist secured other employment. The agency moved all furnishing, equipment
and services to the Toledano location.
The Center is a United Way partner agency and a
member of and accredited by the National Association of Speech and Hearing
Centers. As a 501(c)3 non-profit agency,
the Center is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors chosen from the
Through the years, the focus of the Center has
changed to meet the needs of the community and to reflect professional trends
but remained true to its mission.
Currently, the Center continues to meet the needs of children and adults
with speech, language, hearing, and related disorders through assessment and
treatment. Additionally, a wide variety
of hearing aids and assistive listening devices are now available at the
Center. Children with language-learning
disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder and reading disorders are also treated
by the speech language pathologists.
Specialized testing for Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) is conducted
by the audiologists and the speech language pathologists with remediation
available at the Center. From limited
clinical offices on the first and second floors, the Center has expanded to
include specialty therapy suites designed to offer group and individual therapy
settings throughout the three-story building.
Occupational and Physical Therapy services were
added in 1998 but discontinued in 1999 when the funding source was
discontinued. Psychological services are
also available at the Center from Dr. Scuddy Fontenelle and the doctoral
students he supervises from Tulane University, LSU and other institutions. Grant funding over the years has allowed the
Audiology department to upgrade to state-of-the-art equipment for testing and
fitting of hearing aids, especially on infants and young children.
1999 saw the introduction of the Center for Academic
Success, which provides multi-disciplinary evaluation and intervention services
for students. This program brought
together all of the services of the Center with those of the psychologist under
one roof for comprehensive assessment, remediation and monitoring. The Center also added vision screening to the
services provided in the private school and day care settings. Through a grant from the Compaq Classic, two
machines were purchased so that vision screenings could become a part of the
standard protocol for speech and language evaluations. The Board approved the installation of a new
phone system that significantly increased the efficiency of the agency.
Through grant money received in 2000, an Otoacoustic
Emission System was purchased, thus allowing the Center to enhance its ability
to further test infants and other difficult to test populations. Audiology also added digital hearing aids to
our selection. Another significant
change was the introduction of a new logo and print image change. The façade of the building changed when an
awning was added over the front entrance.
In 2001, the battery of diagnostic tests required by
the speech language department was expanded thanks to a grant from TEXACO. Additional grant requests have been submitted
for expanded supplies and equipment. The
Compaq Classic Foundation awarded a $6,000 grant that was used to establish a
Center for Excellence for Central Auditory Processing Disorders assessment and
remediation. Funds were used to purchase
a comprehensive battery of CAPD tests for audiology and diagnostic and therapy
supplies for the speech language pathology department and to provide
scholarships for CAPD testing. Through
Representative Renee’ Pratt, a grant was obtained that provided funds for
psychological and psycho-educational testing for clients seen at the
Cetner. An addition grant of $2,500 was
awarded by Texaco and used to establish an Assistive Listening Devices lab in the
The Compaq Classic changed its name to Fore!Kids
Foundation and, for 2002 we received an $8,000 grant to purchase additional
diagnostic materials and provide scholarships for children requesting fee
reductions for therapy. Additional
computers were purchased for the Lab, leading to establishment of a
simultaneous individual therapy program.
Additional software and materials for remediation of reading disorders
was purchased. The Eye, Ear, Nose and
Throat Foundation awarded a 3-year grant totalling $85,182 to provide vision,
hearing, speech and language screenings to 3,000 preschool children. To fulfill this grant a second full-time
audiologist was hired and new testing equipment purchased. Entergy Foundation provided funding that allowed
for the purchase of books and educational toys for a Literacy Lending Library
from which parents may secure materials for speech language simulation in the
Additionally, for 2003, funding was again provided
by the Fore!Kids Foundation that allowed the Center, in collaboration with the
Bright School, to produce educational videos on hearing aid placement and
management and how to successfully read to young children using both oral and
manual communication. An Auditory
Brainstem Response system, required for comprehensive testing of infants, was
purchased with funds from the Goldring Family Foundation and a testing suite
established on third floor. During this
year, the Center served 4,227 children and 320 adults.
During 2004 the Fore!Kids Foundation granted
additional funding for equipment and therapy supplies for working with children
requiring Alternative Augmentative Communication systems. The Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Foundation
approved continuation of the original grant for an additional 3 years allowing
1000 children each year, ages birth to five, to received age appropriate
vision, hearing, speech and language screenings. This grant also provided for the purchase of
a new tympanometer for specialized testing in the Audiology Department. An AT&T Foundation Grant of $1,000
allowed for the purchase of audiometric testing equipment for out-of-Center
screenings. The Board of Directors began initial planning to upgrade the
building and clinical areas and our first major fund raising event to secure
funds for the renovations was held. We
participated in a Management Infrastructure Project through the Center for
Non-Profit Resources as a self-examination of the Center’s operation.
2005 was the year of change! The Center re-opened on October 17 in a storm
damaged, but unflooded building. Having
lost 85% of our staff, many of whom never returned, our 2 speech language
pathologists, 1 audiologist and 1 accountant worked with the director to advise
all referral sources and clients of our opening and to begin serving those
residents who had relocated to the unflooded areas. We hired 4 speech language pathologists whose
practices did not reopen and welcomed several of our staff back during the
year. We secured a grant from the Eye,
Ear, Nose, and Throat Foundation to provide hearing aids to individuals needing
financial assistance. The board reassembled and held its first meeting
post-Katrina in January 2006. Our second
annual fundraiser was completed with funds earmarked for building renovation. Stand-up funding was received from United Way
to restart the Center and United Way grants were awarded during the year.
Building repairs and staff and client expansion
continued during 2006. The Eye, Ear,
Nose and Throat Foundation also re-structured their grant to provide vision,
hearing and speech-language screenings in the charter schools. An SBA loan was secured to fund storm related
building repairs that exceeded the insurance settlement. Our 3rd special event also
provided funds for building up-grades, especially in the treatment areas. The Fore!Kids Foundation provided grant
funding for the overall operation of the Center during recovery. Our biggest grant of $140,000 was received
from the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund, upon recommendation of the Fore!Kids
Foundation, to fund the Language Says It All Program for two years. This Program was a collaborative with NOSHC,
The Bright School and Rayne Child Care program (Rayne Memorial Church). With no building, The Bright School became a
permanent tenant of the Center and moved into a 3rd floor
suite. The Language Says It All Program
is an intensive resource room program serving children, ages 6 months through 5
years, who are Deaf, hard-of-hearing and those with cochlear implants, and
speech-language disordered in a licensed child care facility with typical
In 2007, we surpassed our pre-Katrina staff size and
served significantly more clients than any time in our history. By end of year, we had provided services to
8,644 individuals in the Center, the TCA Head Start Centers, and in private,
parochial, charter and preschool programs.
Building repairs, renovations and upgrades to the clinical areas
continued. TUnited Way funded more
grants and another successful special event provided funds for building
work. The board aggressively recruited
new members and continued policy revisions, including: establishment of an Audit Committee,
establishing a Conflict of Interest policy, and revised the Mission
Statement. The Louisiana Business
Recovery program awarded a $20,000 grant to purchase diagnostic and therapy
supplies and inventory to address the expansion of clinical staff and clients.
The Fore!Kids Foundation provided funding for a technology upgrade providing
computers for all clinical staff. The
Campfire Boys and Girls organization moved into office space on the 3rd
The themes of recovery, rebuilding, and expansion
guided the Center as they continued to rebound in 2008. Primary focuses
included building repairs and renovation along with staff expansion. Building
changes included the build out of 3 new offices in the Audiology Department and
waiting area upgrades. Waiting room artwork was purchased by a special Macy’s
fundraising event. A bilingual Speech Language Pathologist was added to the
staff and Language to Literacy doubled from 2 to 4 classes.
While Fiscal Year (FY) 2009-2010 provided some
challenges with the economic downturn, major additions to the Center provided
opportunities for growth. The board members hosted the 2nd Open
House since Katrina to introduce the Center to potential board members, donors, and clients.
They also sponsored the 7th Annual special fundraising event. The
Audiology Department successfully hosted their first Oticon Hearing Aid Open
House earning strong profits for the Center and introduced the latest
technology in hearing aids.
Additional grants were secured as well. Fore!Kids
Foundation grant of $8,000 was awarded to continue the Language to Literacy program
and Autism Groups. The Autism Group held a camp during the summer with these
funds. The EENT (Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat) Foundation renewed screening and
hearing aid grants for 2010. There was also the establishment
of a hearing program at Lighthouse for the Blind with EENT funds. The grant
provides monthly hearing clinics that include hearing screenings, follow up
evaluations and when warranted, the prescribing and dispensing of hearing aids.
The services are available to all employees and clients of the Lighthouse.
Camp Fire Boys and Girls offices on the third floor
were vacated and replaced by Each One Save One. Other notable FY 2009-10
changes were the upgrades to the website and the board meeting format was
changed to focus more on education and member interaction.
As recovery became more and more a reality, FY
2010-2011 Board of Directors shifted their focus towards the future. Increased
number of board members led to the publication of 2 newsletters, reworking of
the website, advertisements in NOLA Baby and Family Magazine, the 3rd
Open House event, and the 8th Special Event fundraiser held in a new
venue. NOSHC also successfully participated in NOLA BabyFest.
The Fore!Kids Foundation grant was again secured for
Language to Literacy and Autism Groups. A Junior League Grant was used
successfully for the purchase of Bilingual Language group materials. Reily
Foods Foundation provided funding that initiated renovations to the business
office. EENT Foundation increased their screening and hearing aid grant to serve
more individuals by the end of the 2010. They also approved additional funding to
pay for transportation for Lighthouse for the Blind clients to the Center.
The EENT grant funded two new diagnostic audiometers
and an ABaer screener for the Audiology Department. The ABaer, auditory
brainstem response screener, is used to diagnose hearing loss in infants. It
detects 99.96% of hearing disorders, estimates hearing sensitivity within 10
minutes, and does not require a response from the patient. The addition of the
aforementioned state-of-the-art equipment furthered NOSHC’s excellence and
dedication to the community. Also continuing excellence in personnel, Ashley
Brewer, the Audiology Coordinator, was appointed by the Department of Health
and Hospitals as the Regional Coordinator for the Region 1 New Born Hearing
Screening Program. As the task force leader she is responsible for monitoring
and coordinating newborn hearing screenings for Touro Infirmary. Infants who do
not pass the hearing screening at Touro are sent to NOSHC. We have been
providing follow up testing for infants born at Touro since 2002.
FY 2011-2012 was a year of beginnings. The number of
clients serviced reached 11,000. Structurally, fifty percent of the business
office redesign was completed. The Communication and Education Coordinator
position was officially added leading to publishing of quarterly newsletters and
redesigning of the website.
NOSHC began a relationship with the New Orleans
Musicians’ Assistance Foundation to conduct hearing evaluations for the
musicians. NOSHC offers custom fit musician’s ear plugs that are designed to
protect hearing while preserving the subtlety and complexity of music.
2012 was the year that NOSHC was welcomed into the
Lambeth House. NOSHC provides a once a month hearing aid clinic that includes
basic hearing aid training and hearing aid consumer education for residents and
Another important beginning in 2012 was the opening
of NOSHC’s first satellite office since 1978. The Methodist Health System
Foundation fully funded the opening of the office, now called NOSHC East, on
July 1, 2012. NOSHC East is located on 5640 Read Blvd, Suite 460, New Orleans,
LA, 70127 on the campus of the old Methodist Hospital. During year one, NOSHC
East will provide speech language pathology assessments and treatment. The goal
is to add limited audiology in year two.
Methodist Health System Foundation and Eye, Ear,
Nose, and Throat Foundation continue to support vision and hearing screening
for 9th and 11th grade students at Chalmette High School,
a service started in 2005.
More innovative programming to address the ever
changing needs in the community will continue as the New Orleans Speech and
Hearing Center continues to make its mark as a valuable resource for the New
Orleans community and the region.