Speaking Up for the Deaf

Let me compliment you on your article "Hearing Sometimes Needs an Aid" {How & Why, May 12}. Your interview with Richard Thomas was interesting and informative, and the message for young people well stated. As one of the sponsors of Better Hearing and Speech Month, we were pleased to receive such prominent exposure.

We would like to take exception, however, to the information presented in Tips for Parents, which recommends an audiologist be consulted if hearing loss is suspected.

It is the official position of the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery, whose membership represents 90 percent of practicing U.S. otolaryngologists, that only physicians, because of their medical training, are capable of diagnosing the causes of hearing loss. Hearing loss may be the result of medical disease and should be evaluated by a physician knowledgeable in diseases of the ear.Jerome C. Goldstein, MD Executive Vice President American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery Washington

Your articles about deafness were informative and largely accurate. It was gratifying to see cued speech, a communication system that helps hearing-impaired persons lip-read, highlighted.

I found it somewhat perplexing, though, to find an article focusing on deaf children integrating with hearing children and learning to speak and communicate with their hearing counterparts to be titled: "Communicating Without Speech." Such a misleading title perpetuates the unfortunate misconception that deaf persons are somehow incapable of speaking, analogous to the "deaf-mute" label of 100 years past.

For clarification: Most school programs throughout the U.S. strive to help hearing-impaired children to understand spoken English and to communicate effectively with speech. This basic goal is found within "total communication" and "oral" contexts and is supported by the communication systems and tools used (i.e., hearing aids, cued speech, oral-auditory teaching, sign language/manual English . . .).

Research upholds the belief that familiarity with spoken language improves reading abilities. Many will agree with Dr. R. Orin Cornett, the developer of cued speech, that reading must become the deaf person's "window to the world."

The hearing-impaired children and adults out there in the world who are "making it" are equipped with a variety of communication tools that provide access to a universe of information and people. Those tools will include a facility with spoken language to the extent technology, training and personal motivation and potentials will allow, given appropriate opportunities for the deaf to learn alongside their hearing peers. James M. Latt Burke

Not for Men Only

"Alcohol and Women: The Hidden Addiction" was timely and informative {Healthtalk, May 5}. It also serves a very useful purpose. For all too long, the general public has been unaware of the magnitude of the problem of alcoholism in women. Unfortunately, the article is off the mark in one area, and I quote: "Until recently, for example, Alcoholics Anonymous was almost exclusively for men. Women were shunted to the support arm, Al Anon."

First, Alcoholics Anonymous has never been exclusively for men. Women were accepted into that fellowship from its inception, back as far as 1939. Second, Al Anon is not a support arm of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a separate entity, although it does cooperate with Alcoholics Anonymous. Its sole purpose is to help families of alcoholics, and the only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend. Like AA, Al Anon is for both men and women.

The media has devoted a great deal of attention to the problem of alcoholism in the past few years. However, seldom is any mention made of the 48 million or so individuals (an average of four per alcoholic) who are adversely impacted by the alcoholic's behavior. This is as serious a problem as the drinking, and, I believe, a suitable subject for another of Sandy Rovner's excellent articles. Eugene A. Shaw Arlington

Sex Without Love

For me, the most informative aspect of Boyce Rensberger's article, "The Sex Drive" {Cover Story, May 26}, is that the word "love" never appears. Not once. While this may be sadly consistent with general social attitudes about sex, I see it as a terrible omission. Juli Maltagliati Silver Spring

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