Serving the deaf and hard of hearing for more than a century

Deaf Education student Emily Lowther works with young hearing impaired students at Central Institute for the Deaf.

Washington University’s Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences or PACS has a long and storied history of serving the deaf and hard of hearing community. Now, during National Audiology Month and National Protect Your Hearing Month, we take a historical look at this nationally recognized program that continues to supply the community with top-trained audiologists and educators of the deaf.

An innovation in deaf education

With roots dating back over 100 years, the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences (PACS) was born out of the pioneering efforts of St. Louis physician Max Goldstein, MD. In 1914, Goldstein founded Central Institute for the Deaf (CID), where doctors and teachers worked together to serve people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The 1933 graduating class of deaf educators were among the first such trainees to receive Washington University degrees.

CID’s auditory-oral methods for instructing children were ground-breaking, and Goldstein began training teachers in these methods that same year. The first class of teachers graduated in 1915. This training continued until 1931, when CID joined forces with Washington University in St. Louis to establish the first undergraduate deaf education program in the country to be affiliated with a university, followed soon after by the first graduate program.

CID’s pioneering efforts in hearing testing and hearing aids, along with its research on hearing loss in military personnel following World War II, laid the foundation for audiology as a recognized field of study and a professional career choice. In 1947, CID and Washington University again partnered, this time to establish one of the first two audiology programs in the country. In September 2003, this successful partnership expanded and CID’s graduate degree programs, research programs, and audiology clinics transferred to the Washington University School of Medicine’s Department of Otolaryngology.

A nationally ranked training program expands

The shared faculty, clinical and research resources, and facilities have helped grow and strengthen the PACS programs. Today, PACS serves approximately 100 students each year through its Doctor of Audiology (AuD), Master of Science in Deaf Education (MSDE), PhD in Speech and Hearing Sciences, and undergraduate Minor in Speech and Hearing programs. Students from around the country are attracted to the clinical training opportunities, interdisciplinary approach, and supportive culture of PACS.

PACS administrators and staff enjoy a day at the ballpark (from left): Angie Moeller, Kate McClannahan, PhD, Beth Fisher, Beth Elliott, Casey Reimer, PhD, Amanda Ortmann, PhD, Rene Miller, and Lauren Felton.

Expert faculty and dedicated staff ensure PACS offers the highest quality education and training year after year. The teaching faculty are practicing clinicians, researchers, and teachers who come from the Department of Otolaryngology at WashU and the community.

Leading the education programs are Amanda Ortmann, PhD (Director of Audiology Studies), Casey Reimer, PhD (Director of Deaf Education Studies), Kate McClannahan, PhD (Director of Undergraduate Studies) and Beth Elliott (Director of Finance and Academic Affairs). This leadership team is supported by Lauren Felton (Clinical Education Coordinator), Beth Fisher (Faculty Coordinator & Grant Specialist), Rene’ Miller (Academic Records Assistant), and Angie Moeller (Audiology Assistant).

To learn more about PACS, please visit their website»