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June 30, 2003

Making noise pays off

From: Winnipeg Sun, Canada - Jun 30, 2003

Hearing clinic co-founder honoured

By Kathleen Martens

If necessity is the mother of invention, Pamela Campbell is the mother of all mothers.

The co-founder of Winnipeg's Central Speech and Hearing Clinic has been recognized for her plucky determination in opening an alternative communication clinic to help deaf and hearing-impaired children.

Campbell won the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Consumer Advocacy Award for 2003, the only award recognizing people not of the profession.

She co-founded the clinic in 1989 with her husband and two other couples with deaf children, and admits she stepped on toes, sparked turf wars and initiated philosophical battles in her efforts to champion auditory-verbal therapy as an alternative to lip-reading and sign language.

She was even criticized for having too much of a businesslike approach in lobbying for funds and seeking parity with other services.

"We, as a group, never believed that we should be the only act in town. We just wanted to be an act in town," she said last week as her youngest daughter prepared to graduate from Churchill High School.

Her eldest daughter has also completed high school and received a scholarship to attend university.

The Winnipeg clinic teaches hearing-impaired children to listen, hear and speak well enough to enter regular day cares and schools along with their hearing peers.

But there was no clinic here when Campbell's children were born, so she undertook considerable personal expense to take both daughters to the audiology program at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

"Jenny was two years and one month old and had one guttural 'ah' sound. Ten working days later we returned to Winnipeg and she understood 40 words, she could express 17 and she could turn to her name."


Campbell, who manages the day-to-day operations of the clinic, says there was tremendous opposition from traditional practitioners to her alternative therapy. But she was intent on offering another option and making it available to families from outside the province and the country.

"Contrary to popular belief, most hearing-impaired children have useable hearing ... and most have hearing parents. They want their children to be part of their world -- not part of the deaf world."

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