Austin Pre-School Hearing Center Records
An Inventory of the Collection
The Austin Pre-School Hearing Center was organized in 1956 by a group of parents and professional people who saw the need for pre-school training for hearing impaired children so they could take better advantage of public education facilities when they reach school age. Mrs. Bayne Blankenship and Mr. Harold Novy, both with deaf children, placed a notice in the newspaper in early 1956 to connect with other families with deaf or hard of hearing children to discuss establishing a program to assist with early childhood education. After initial informal meetings to establish that there was sufficient interest, the first Board of Directors meeting was held on May 9, 1956. Austin Mayor Tom Miller offered the use of a city-owned house at 301 Nelray Street for the rent of one dollar of year. The Board of Directors conducted a variety of fundraising events and the Hearing Center was opened on June 4, 1956. In 1959 House Bill 612 of the 56th Legislature was passed into law that charged the Texas Education Agency with the responsibility of making available a special instructional program for pre-school age deaf children which will prepare them for entry into the first grade with the command of some form of communication skills. The bill stipulated that the local school district would administer the program and as a result Austin Public Schools took over the Austin Pre-School Hearing Center. The transition to the public school system was gradual and the Board of Directors continued to be involved with fund raising efforts for the school and operated the summer school sessions independently from school district. During this transition the Board changed its name to Advisory Board of Directors. In the 1960s the Center moved from its Nelray Street location to the campus of the Robert E. Lee Elementary School.
The collection consists of a variety of materials that document the organization of the Austin Pre-School Hearing Center in 1956, as well as the administration and activities of the Center in the early years. Included in the organizational documents is a letter to parents of deaf children asking for their support in establishing a pre-school program, a notice of a Parents Organizational Meeting, the proposal for a Pilot Project for a Training Center for Pre-School Deaf Children, as well as the talking points for Board members going out to talk to civic groups to garner support. The correspondence file consists of letters asking for support, thank you notes for donations, invitations to the Board of Directors, resignations from the Board, and requests of staff by the Board. Also of note in this file is an assessment of the Center by two psychologists and a speech pathologist at the request of the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors file includes meeting minutes, agendas, and financial reports. Included is the discussion of Bill 612 and details of how to handle the transition of the Hearing Center to the public school system. The collection also contains newspaper clippings about the Hearing Center, assorted lists of donors and board members and information about other facilities for deaf children.
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Austin Pre-School Hearing Center Records (AR.2011.039). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/2001/087
Donation Date: 2001
Finding aid created and encoded by Molly Hults in 2011.
Detailed Description of the Collection