Remembering The Pioneering Audiologist Who Tested Hearing At Birth
DECEMBER 28, 2014
by Becky Sullivan
Before turning the page on 2014, All Things Considered is paying tribute to some of the people who died this year whose stories you may not have heard — including Marion Downs.i
As recently as the early 1990s, if you were born deaf, nobody would know for years. Parents were left to realize that something was amiss when their toddlers were not learning to talk or communicate at a normal pace. A diagnosis that late meant many deaf children never fully developed the ability to use language.
Today, things are drastically different for hard-of-hearing children, thanks to the efforts of a remarkable woman: Marion Downs.
It was just chance that Downs ended up as an audiologist. In the 1930s, she dropped out of college to marry and have children. When her children were old enough to spend their days in school, she wrapped up her bachelor’s degree and headed to the University of Denver to register for graduate school.