Monday, June 30, 2008

UT Audiology and Speech Program Update

I have been very busy writing letters to the Tennessee Governor, the President of the University of Tennessee, the Board of Trustees, Senators, Representatives, and anyone I can think of regarding the proposed shutdown of the UT Audiology and Speech Program. The public outcry on this issue has been phenomenal. The Board of Trustees did decide to postpone this decision until October.

I also wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about my thoughts and feelings. It was published in the Knoxville News Sentinel as a Citizen's Voice guest op this past Saturday and is titled "Department's End Will Harm Patients." The original letter that I wrote was too long and I was invited to be a guest writer instead. To do that, I had to condense my original letter from 1900 words to 600. That was quite a challenge for me because I am not a person of a few words! It takes more effort to get a point across with fewer words than to "just write."

A 17th-century French philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal (1623-62), once wrote a letter to a friend, "I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter." (This quote is often misattributed to Mark Twain.)

I've had a great response to my article and many encouraging emails. Even Doug Overbey, the Tennessee House Representative, called my cell phone tonight! I was so surprised (and tongue tied!) when I answered the phone but he wanted to let me know that he was doing all he can to support this vital department. And I could hear him almost perfectly. . . thanks to modern technology and to audiologists like the ones at UT.

One of the emails that I received was from Marcia Silverstein, who also had a guest op article on the same page as mine. Her late husband, Dr. Bernard Silverstein, was the founding director of the East Tennessee Hearing and Speech Center in 1953. You can see her article titled "UT Cutback Decision A Backward Move". Both of our articles complemented each other very well.

Also, my husband met with the US Ambassador to Poland last week. He is Victor Ashe, the former mayor of Knoxville for 16 years, a UT law graduate, and is a hearing aid user. He was very interested in this situation as well and promised to help.

I'm not done with this issue and will not let it rest. If someone doesn't speak for the deaf and hard of hearing, who will? This department does a valuable service to their patients and the community, always with a smile.

If you or a family member can hear and communicate because of an audiologist or speech therapist, call or write them a note today to thank them for patient and wonderful service. They do it because they have a heart for people who struggle with disabilities and hearing loss and want to make a difference.


David said...

Your tenacity is to be commended. You are fighting a fight that needs someone as capable of you to do it. I am in awe!

Laurie said...

Thank you, David. Until the hearing people can walk in our shoes, only they will understand how difficult it is to get the support and care we need.

I am passionate about this department and know I'm supposed to be doing this.

Thank you for your kind words!


Abbie said...

I agree with every word that David said. You are in a position to make people aware how this is going is going affect the people that depend on this very program.

Cyborg Queen said...

That "sounds" wonderful!!! :-) I'm glad that the eyes and ears are being opened.