Hear Stands For
Help Evaluate Advise Resolve
Treat everyone that comes in contact with us with compassion and respect.
Provide high-quality care through innovation.
Be transparent and accountable to all our stakeholders.
Commitment to integrity and diversity in the organization.
Educate our patients on available options and treatments.
Collaborate with other organizations for greater growth and services.
Be financially sustainable, allowing us to continue our mission for many years.
The Vision of Ciwa Griffiths, Ed.D.
The HEAR Center was founded in 1954 by Ciwa Griffiths, Ed.D. As a dedicated teacher of the deaf, she developed the Auditory Approach: helping hearing-impaired children gain the gift of speech through early identification of hearing loss, amplification with hearing aids and training in learning to listen and speak.
Close friends of Dr. Griffiths and true believers in her vision, Glen and Margaret Bollinger gave significant funding to the HEAR Center to expand her vision. In January of 1969 they broke ground on their headquarters in Pasadena, CA.
Dr. Griffiths promoted the idea that if you place hearing aids on children identified with hearing loss at a young age, the child could had a significantly increased chance of learning to speak normally. She had studied the specialized education of deaf children in London with educators who were performing ground-breaking research. It was there that Dr. Griffiths first observed the impact of early amplification.
She vigorously and emphatically shared the truth that there are varying degrees of hearing loss and that the evaluation of hearing ability at an early age was critical to the quality of life for these children. Her advocacy for not giving up on children that others were ready to dismiss as totally deaf helped to bring about the awareness that these children could learn to listen and speak.
The application of Dr. Griffith’s Auditory Approach, while initially scoffed at by the medical establishment of the time, has become standard operating procedure in hospitals across the nation. Throughout the years, the HEAR Center has become internationally recognized for its innovative and extensive testing and therapy programs.
Ciwa Griffith’s Story
In her own words:
Thirty-five day old profoundly deaf Diane lay on her mother’s lap idly moving her arms and legs but inattentive to her surroundings. The fourth child in her family to be born deaf, her deafness had been anticipated and confirmed within a week of birth. This was the day she was to get her hearing aids.
Gently I inserted a mold in each ear. I turned the right aid on and the volume up. Suddenly Diane stilled. When I turned the left aid on, her stillness intensified. I moved the controls to give her more sound and eyes widened. “She smiled and gave a happy gurgle. I shook a rattle to the side and behind her head; she turned her head in that direction. It was the first time her mother had seen her respond to any sound at all.
I turned on a music box on the other side; again she turned towards the sound. Holding a soft stuffed cat in front of her, I said, “This is a kitty. The kitty says meow, meow, meow. Touch the kitty; it’s soft. It says meow, meow, meow.” Picking up a rubber cow, I again held it in front of her. “This is a cow. It says MOOOO, MOOO.”
I held one toy animal after another where she could see it as I gave the sound it makes. I said the words as I would to any baby. By the end of initial lesson, Diane had heard for the first time all the vowel sound in the English language and listened to the up and down cadence of my voice in normal rate and rhythm. She paid attention to each toy.
After we set up an appointment for her next lesson, I advised Mrs. Jenkins to take the aids off for the freeway drive home so needn’t worry about the aids while she was driving. Just as soon as the aids were removed, Diane started crying piteously. Her mother checked for the problem: wetness, pins, hunger— all to no avail. Comforting her didn’t help either.
“I know!” I exclaimed. “She wants to hear. Let’s put her aids back on.” When they were returned to her ears, the crying stopped and Kane was happy, laughing baby again. This was 1956 when aids were rarely given to profoundly deaf children, much less babies.
Diane grew up to flourish in the world of the hearing. She and many others like her are reasons I dedicated my to helping deaf children enter the world of sound. As many times as I saw that moment of sudden stillness when a deaf child heard for the first time, it never failed to me with over whelming significance.