Canton, OH 44708
Our first informal
meeting, held in 1984, consisted of six parents of children with hearing
impairments who wanted to share their stories and receive emotional support
in return. But it was not long before they wanted to be more than a place
for mutual empathy. Most felt strongly about the auditory-verbal philosophy
of communication; yet only a handful of people in the surrounding area knew
about it. When a parent explained to someone what method they'd chosen for
their child, the reaction was usually one of skeptism or polite
condescension. At that point, they knew their mission was to spread the word
about auditory-verbal and to prove their point by making their "hearing and
speaking" children visible to the parents of newly diagnosed children.
they needed a name for the group. The "attorney/mom" of the group suggested
becoming incorporated and started the paperwork. The wheels were in motion.
Two co-founders, Charlie Lim and Nick Calcagno, wanted a name that was more
descriptive of our communication option. Harriet, Nick's wife, suggested the
word "natural" because the children of the group learned language naturally
-- through listening and repeating "natural communication." The name wasn't
a hit with the majority of members, but the papers were ready and Charlie
and Nick felt the name spoke volumes. And so, amidst some groans, Natural
Communication, Inc. was born! The next step was to produce and distribute a
brochure that explained the group's purpose and defined the auditory-verbal
philosophy. Neonatal units of hospitals were targeted to let parents of
newborns know about this exciting option for a child with a hearing
Although the group now had a name and a purpose, it seemed to be stagnant.
NCI needed more members. During the "lean" years, a core of dedicated
members kept the group together by holding meetings and logging minutes with
just the officers present. By 1990, membership had grown and with new
members came new enthusiasm. The result was in 1992, NCI produced a
videotape depicting the group's children and a brief description of
auditory-verbal therapy. I Can Hear truly put NCI on the map. A generous
grant from the Geoffrey Foundation of Kennebunkport, Maine, enabled the
group to caption the videotape and help with distribution costs. All the
professionals like Carol Flexer (Ph.D., Audiology, Certified Auditory-Verbal
Therapist), Denise Wray (Ph.D., Speech-Language Pathology, Certified
Auditory-Verbal Therapist), and Ginny Howell (M.A., Speech-Language
Pathology) devoted both time and knowledge to keep NCI motivated and
focused. The group has since produced a second videotape: I Can Hear II.
Most recently, NCI published a book, We Can Hear and Speak: The Power of
Auditory-Verbal Communication for Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
Thanks to the distributor, the
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf
in Washington, D.C., the message is reaching parents and professionals all
over the world.
It was just 14 years ago when Charlie Lim said he wished NCI would someday
be known everywhere. Although the founding members laughed, they secretly
hoped such recognition would occur. It was a wish that began with a
passionately shared belief: Auditory-Verbal works! The members of Natural
Communication, Inc. knew it and wanted the world to know it too!