Thursday, June 05, 2008

UT President is Shutting Down My Audiologist's Office!

As an advocate for the Tennessee Council for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing, if anything affects the deaf and hard of hearing in East Tennessee, I stop whatever I am doing. Today is one of those days.

I have received some disturbing news today and have already written a letter to the Governor of Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, regarding this issue. John D. Peterson, the president of the University of Tennessee has approved the shutdown of the Audiology & Speech Pathology Program at UT. You can read about it HERE and HERE. This shutdown will affect the services that are provided to the deaf and hard of hearing clients in East Tennessee and surrounding areas who have speech and hearing difficulties. I am disappointed to hear this news and am doing all I can to keep this from happening. If this department is closed down, the fallout will be great in the deaf and hard of hearing community in this area. Also, as the average age in East Tennessee increases because of the Baby Boomers aging and retirees moving here, there will be an increased growth in the hearing impaired community.

If you have been a faithful reader of my blog, you will know how difficult it has been for me to find a good audiologist. There is an acute shortage of audiologists and speech pathologists NATIONWIDE, not just here in my county and surrounding areas. This decision is affecting me on a personal level because the UT Audiology & Speech Pathology Program at UT is where I go for my mapping and programming appointments for my cochlear implants. It is also where I go for auditory training and therapy. In addition, I have also participated in several research studies for the graduate students working on their dissertations. Susie, my former audiologist, is currently working on her doctorate degree so she can do more for the deaf and hard of hearing in this area. Without this department, I cannot hear or function in the hearing world with my cochlear implants.

The UT Audiology and Speech Pathology program at UT has a long list of services and accomplishments. This should be a time to celebrate their successes, not close them down. If this shutdown happens, it will have an enormous impact on the deaf and hard of hearing community in this area. (Note: I will do a separate post on their services and accomplishments.)

I also graduated from the University of Tennessee with my Finance degree in 2003. I could not have done it without the help and services that UT offered to people like me.

If you live in East Tennessee or the surrounding areas, please contact the Governor of Tennessee at the following address because he is also the president of the Board of Trustees who will be voting on this shutdown. They will be doing the final vote on June 20th.

Governor's Office
Tennessee State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243-0001
Phone: (615) 741-2001
Fax: (615) 532-9711

I'm still trying to find the names and email addresses of the Board of Trustees to write to them personally as well. When I find them, I will post them. You can get to the list of the Board of Trustees HERE.

University of Tennessee Board of Trustee members:
The Honorable Phil Bredesen, Chair
Ms. Andrea J. Loughry, Vice Chair
Mr. Charles Anderson, Jr.
Ms. Anne Holt Blackburn
Mr. William Y. Carroll
Ms. Barbara C. Castleman
Mr. George Cates
Mr. Spruell Driver
The Honorable Ken Givens
Mr. James E. Hall
Mr. Douglas Horne
Dr. Rynette N. Hurd
Mr. Jerry L. Jackson
Ms. Brittany McGruder
Mr. James L. Murphy, III
Dr. John D. Petersen
The Honorable Richard D. Rhoda
Dr. John Schommer
Mr. Karl L. Schledwitz
Dr. Don C. Stansberry, Jr.
Mr. Robert Talbott
The Honorable Dr. Tim Webb
Mr. Charles Wharton
Dr. Candace White
Mr. James L. "Bucky" Wolford
Ms. Anna York


Mike Mc said...

Alexander Graham Bell Association and its association have been shutting down sign language for 128 years.

You are not the only one that is having a problem.

But who suffered more?

Cyborg Queen said...

Mike - it would be almost IMPOSSIBLE to shut down sign language at this point. So what's your point?

I think those who have CI's and go through the struggles of trying to find the RIGHT audiologist who knows what they're doing, and learning to LISTEN to their patients' wishes and 'ears' and adjust. After all, we DEPEND on these people to allow us hear.

Laurie - This TOTALLY sucks. Seriously. I have emailed my teacher who graduated from UT's Audiology department, and I'll see what she says. Kick some you-know-what.

What's the reason? Did they ever say?

Anonymous said...

I hail UT for making the right decision. Audiologists have been making MILLIONS of dollars from Deaf people WITHOUT giving some money back to Deaf community. Enough is enough!

Maybe we should send letters to UT to congratulate them for making one of best decision they ever made. Hopefully others will follow!

Cry Me A River said...

There are zillions of audiologists and you can find many services within your hometown. So you should not have any problems with find new one.

Laurie said...

UT didn't really give a reason for closing down this program except for budget cuts. But they wouldn't dare cut back on the athletic programs. . . would they?

Cyborg Queen, rally up some support! It would be greatly appreciated!

Anonymous, this department does give back to the deaf community, which is worth far more than any amount of money. . .read my additional post on their accomplishments and services that they provide to the deaf and hard of hearing.

~Laurie (who is writing letters instead of working)

Mike Mc said...

Those that promised glorified life with ci and those that been destroyed the deaf communication by AGBell should understand about these ideology created by these so call deaf experts should start figuring out the right strategy to get this worked out.

It is the Alexander Graham Bell and its associates such as the ci industry that needs to be investigated.

These AGBell and its associates are using us left and right.

It is time to wake up.

Linda Martin said...

Laurie, I was absolutely shocked when I read this in my newspaper this morning! Obviously, the higher ups do not understand how important audiologists are in our lives. Here we work so hard to try and live as normal life as possible in order to avoid being supported by the government, and being profoundly deaf, this is a huge step. Thus, we do what we have to in order to be able to 'hear' in the best sense of the word. Lots and lots of audiologists throughout the nation have been trained or have ties to UT's audiology dept. I will write letters and do whatever I can to protest the program closing. As I said earlier, people just don't understand. Linda

OCDAC said...

I heard that one got infected by the ASL extremists so the proper thing to do is to shut it down. Theyll open it up with fresh new faces later on.

Sam said...

That is absolutely pathetic that UT has to resort to this. Here in New York State, Buffalo specifically, the Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center is independently funded. At the same time, it enjoys an association with the Univ. at Buffalo that benefits both worlds...the patient (like me) and the future audiologist / speech pathologist / teacher of the deaf.

Hedy said...

Yes! shut down audiologist office! Open ASL education and establish an office to give all deaf students who embraced ASL to access the communication. MOST of audiologist offices ALWAYS tell any new clients that ASL "is not the way of communication in a higher education"


Laurie said...

These comments are quite interesting. I'm leaving them up for now. . .but this is not about ASL or deaf vs. hearing, etc. It is about a valuable service and an education that the University of Tennessee provides to help ALL deaf and hard of hearing persons. They are partially funded by other sources, which is listed in another post.

Like Sam said, both worlds benefit from this valuable resource to the college and community. This shutdown will affect ALL deaf & hard of hearing persons of East Tennessee, their families, their friends, and health professionsals that work with them as well as the staff and students at UT.

David said...

Laurie this is sad indeed.
Here in my province, we are increasing funding at a fantastic rate to centers for hearing and cochlear programs. It maddens me when I see cutbacks that force these programs to shut down. cyborg is so right, we struggle enough now to find the right audiologist.

Valerie said...


I have been trying to get here for a day to leave a comment. Sorry.

This same situation with them closing your Audie's office is the reason I lost my cost of living increase from the state. The budget! Even on opposite sides of Tennesse it gets both of us.

I know how hard it is to find a good audiologist. I would hate for you to have to drive to Nashville to Vanderbilt. I do have to say that Susan is the best I have ever had. If I hear of anyone on your side of the state I will let you know.

Laurie said...

David and Valerie,

Thank you for your comments. UT should be celebrating the accomplishments and successes of this department, not shutting them down. Yes, it is difficult to find a good audiologist, especially one that is up to date on current technology and cochlear implants. This department serves many patient who are poor or live in rural area who could not afford or have the means to drive to Nashville for good care.

Jennifer said...

Oh, Laurie...I hate that!! :( I think they're cutting their budget in the wrong places! Audiology services are very much needed...we're lucky in Nashville to have the service we have, but we still have to wait a long time for our appointments...too long sometimes. I can't imagine having FEWER services or NONE...especially, as you said, with deafness/hard of hearing becoming more and more prevalent!! :(

Open-Minded Deaf Observer said...


Just wonder if deaf ed at UT is getting cut as well? What abt ASL classes?

I am sorry to hear it.

Despite of ASL Deaf person, I am advocating CI for deaf babies with understanding that parents must follow AVT program. Impementing ASL is at parents' discretion.