The Volta Award 2008 Award Recipient - Dr. Marion Downs

By Murphy, Catherine | Volta Voices, November/December 2008 | Go to article overview

The Volta Award 2008 Award Recipient - Dr. Marion Downs


Murphy, Catherine, Volta Voices


Last January, the AG Bell Board of Directors voted unanimously to honor Marion Downs, Ph.D., with The Volta Award for 2008.

The Volta Award has been in existence for 37 years and is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution within the field of hearing health or deaf education with a particular emphasis on infants and/or young children.

Dr. Downs joins other notable award recipients such as Rocky Stone, founder of the Hearing Loss Association of America; Daniel Ling, Ph.D., renowned educator of the deaf; Jim Garrity of the John Tracy Clinic; Carol Flexer, Ph.D., distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Akron and former president of the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language; and Karl R. White, Ph.D., of the National Center for Hearing and Assessment Management.

Dr. Downs is often referred to as the "Mother of Pediatric Audiology." In 1963, she founded the first infant hearing screening program in the United States and has since played a critical role in achieving national newborn hearing screening, and implementing early identification and services for infants and young children with hearing loss.

Dr. Downs is Professor Emerita at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center where she spent more than 35 years initiating, developing and evaluating techniques for testing hearing in children and fitting them with hearing aids, even some as young as a few weeks of age. She was among the first to recognize the need for utilizing hearing aids as early as possible to help infants with hearing loss learn language and communication skills during the critical development years in early childhood.

Dr. Downs has published almost 100 articles and books, and has lectured and taught extensively throughout the United States and in 15 foreign countries. In 1969, Dr. Downs proposed to establish a national committee comprised of representatives from professional hearing healthcare organizations that would periodically review and evaluate, as well as recommend "best practices" for, newborn hearing screening. As a direct result of her visionary thinking, the national Joint Committee on Infant Hearing was organized and has provided multi-disciplinary leadership and guidance for 35 years in all areas of newborn and infant hearing issues.

Dr. Downs has been the recipient of many honors, including the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota and Gold Medal Recognition from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is the recipient of two Honorary Doctorate Degrees, from the University of Colorado and the University of Northern Colorado. Dr. Downs has also been awarded the Medal of the Ministry of Health of South Vietnam and has been recognized with honors by nearly every professional hearing- related society, including the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), and the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. She was a founder of the American Auditory Society and the International Audiology Society. She received an Outstanding Service Recognition Award from the American Medical Association (AMA) for her work in teaching audiology in Vietnam. She also served as the program chair for the International Audiology Congress on two occasions. And in 2007, Dr. Downs received the U. S Department of Health and Human Services Secretary's Highest Recognition Award. Dr. Downs received her B. A. from the University of Minnesota and her M. A. from the University of Denver.

The Marion Downs Hearing Center at the University of Colorado Hospital and the University of Colorado was created to honor Dr. …

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