HLAA History

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HLAA History

This history is not a complete account of all data or a complete listing of all pieces of legislation HLAA had input to. However, it is an informative sketch of some of the major highlights of the organization.

Updated March 2016


November: Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. (SHHH), is founded and incorporated as a non-profit educational membership organization by CIA retiree Howard E. “Rocky” Stone of Bethesda, Maryland. The office of SHHH is the family room of the Stone home. Furnishings were donated by ASHA. Funding is donated by the Stone family and personal friends. 

A brochure offers membership for $7. 

The Wall Street Journal writes a story on Rocky Stone’s career and includes a small paragraph (5%) on the inception of SHHH. One hundred people from all over the world write for information and help with hearing loss. 

A small article in Modern Maturity magazine about the new organization for hard of hearing people brings 2,500 letters of interest. 

The induction loop is introduced by Rocky Stone in the Washington, D.C., Archdiocese leading to its introduction elsewhere in the metro capital area. Stone is chair of the Washington Committee on Ministry with Persons Who Are Handicapped. 


The first 12-page bimonthly Shhh Journal is published in July. 

SHHH attracts members from 30 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia and other countries. 

SHHH welcomes its first chartered SHHH Chapter in Gainesville, GA. 

Stone becomes advisor to the National Institute of Handicapped Research. 

Stone testifies before congress on the problems of millions of Americans who are hard of hearing. 


Stone chairs a White House Conference on Aging and Hearing Loss (co-sponsored by American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), National Association of the Deaf (NAD), and A.G.Bell). The conference, the first of its kind, brings together a mix of consumers and representatives from government, industry, medicine and academia to identify hearing loss issues, reach conclusions, and make recommendations. Seven consumers attending return home committed to begin SHHH chapters in their states. 


SHHH adopts a goal: Make Hearing Loss an Issue of National Concern. 

SHHH colors of green and white are adopted. 

A Chapter Manual to assist organizers is completed by the first regular volunteer, Joan Kleinrock, who will become SHHH chapter coordinator. SHHH has 25 chapters. 

July: SHHH News, a newsletter for leaders makes its debut. 

Betty Bonvillian and Marjorie Boone begin what will be 17 years as weekly Wednesday volunteers at the SHHH National office. 

Financed by Esso of Australia, Rocky Stone travels to Australia and SHHH gains international recognition with the establishment of a sister organization – SHHH Australia. 

SHHH expands its National Advisory Board, its Professional Advisory Board, and gains a medical advisor, Dr. Howard House, president of the famed House Ear Institute. 

ABC News features a three-part series of interviews with Rocky about SHHH. 

SHHH joins with 27 organizations that make up the Council for Better Hearing and Speech Month (May). October: SHHH is advisor to Bill Neill, producer of a three-part PBS TV series on hearing loss and noise, The Hurt That Does Not Show. Part I airs on 310 stations. Parts II and III air in 1984. SHHH begins involvement with legislation to advocate for telephone compatibility. 


SHHH leases its first office at 4848 Battery Lane in Bethesda. With the addition of Carol Lingley and Pat Clickener, staff grows to four full-time volunteers. (Clickener has taken a one-and-a-half-year leave from a Chicago executive position in advertising.) 

The official SHHH logo is designed and adopted (Fading SHHH letters represent fading hearing.) 

SHHH is a featured story in The New York Times

SHHH has 60 chapters and developing groups. 

There are 10 members of the board of trustees. 

Stone is the keynote speaker at the First Canadian Conference of Hard of Hearing People. SHHH launches campaign to conserve the hearing of youth with a project titled Operation SHHH and publishes a 15 page special report on noise pollution. 

SHHH leaders Stone and Clickener represent hard of hearing people on a variety of national agencies and organizations. 

The groundwork is laid for a 13th National Institutes of Health the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)… and supported by the SHHH membership. 

A feature article about Stone in Modern Maturity, “For Your Eyes Only,” draws hundreds of inquiries about SHHH. 

Stone is elected to the board of directors of the Deafness Research Foundation (DRF). 


The first National Convention is held in Chicago in May. 450 people attend. Here, Pat Clickener becomes the first elected president of SHHH (succeeding Rocky Stone). Columnist Ann Landers receives the first SHHH Walter T. Ridder Award. A large number of attendees go home committed to starting chapters, so that by November SHHH has 122 chapters. 

SHHH moves to larger offices at 7800 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. 

SHHH publishes Self Help in Action, a special pictorial report of the first fours years of National and chapter progress. 

An SHHH Pen Pal Club for children with hearing loss is initiated and overseen by a volunteer. 

SHHH publication sales begin with an information series of six pamphlets on assistive listening devices (ALDs). 

Ann Lander’s advises readers with hearing loss to contact SHHH. The National office, with the help of many volunteers from local chapters, answers over 8,000 letters and welcomes 900 new National members. 


January: SHHH begins to pay staff (Stone remains a volunteer throughout his tenure). 

A “Present at the Creation” birthday party is held in November honoring 30 people who helped SHHH begin and initiating the first annual Founder’s Day. Chapters join by raising funds for National. 

SHHH has responded to more than 35,000 pieces of mail. 

SHHH has 140 chapters in 33 states. 

The board of directors approves the sale of advertising to support the SHHH Journal

Publication sales rise. Dr. Sam Trychin’s videos and manuals on Coping Strategies for Hearing Impaired People are introduced along with the SHHH Information Series-(papers on a variety of subjects). 

National office opens an Assistive Listening Devices Demonstration Center directed by Charles Mizell. 

National Volunteer Nursing Home visitation Program begins: 160 members volunteer to execute the program. 

SHHH and Gallaudet College hold a two-day symposium on contemporary Issues of Hard of Hearing Young Adults. From this, a SHHH/Gallaudet Task Force emerges. 

Sam Trychin, Gallaudet psychology professor teaches Coping Strategies for Hard of Hearing People classes to SHHH staff and local members. 

SHHH joins as a member of the worldwide International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH). 


Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, is the site of the second National Convention chaired by Bill Cutler who is elected SHHH President. 

Following nine months preparation, a Report on Research and Service Priorities for SHHH was approved by the membership at the convention. Membership adopts 12 priorities, which become the basis for the SHHH priorities of awareness, access, education, and employment. 

SHHH is structured into ten regions of 4 to 7 states each. Volunteer coordinators in states and coordinators of regions work to facilitate communication and strengthen the chapter network and SHHH National. 

SHHH “board of directors is renames SHHH “board of trustees and expands to 27 members who pay all their expenses to attend 3 meetings annually. There are 14 National committees; i.e., Advocacy, ALDS, Chapter relations, Finance, Parent Involvement, Young Adults, and Hearing Loss in later years. 

Staff now numbers seven full-time and one part time employees. 

SHHH has 170 chapters and groups in 41 states. 

SHHH begins PALS – a database of “places with assistive listening devices.” In one year there will be 5,700 sites. 

Stone is keynote speaker for annual meeting of International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH). 

SHHH and ASHA convene the first workshop on ALDS at ASHA for more than 80 audiologists. 


January: SHHH membership dues increase to $12 a year. 

SHHH motto, “Make Hearing Loss an Issue of National Concern,” becomes the title of a regular column for Shhh. 

Board votes to adopt the existing International Symbol for Hearing Loss. (NAD holds the U.S. Copyright.) 

Board approved eight Chapter Standards as a guide for developing groups. 

Symposium is held to examine and formalize SHHH philosophy. 

Stone is appointed to the AT&T Special Needs Advisory Panel. 

ASHA awards SHHH their 1987 Distinguished Service Award. 

SHHH publicity is widespread as staff and members appear on television talk shows, and SHHH is written about in magazines such as U.S. News and World ReportTimeFamily Circle, professional magazines and newspapers from New York City to Los Angeles. 

Ann Landers references SHHH for the second time in her syndicated column and 8,000 inquiries are answered at the National office.

Rocky Stone presents a paper at an International Conference, University of Bristol, England, and addresses the British Parliament. 

SHHH members visit all U.S. Congressional offices and each congressman is presented with SHHH materials. 


Rochester, NY, is the site of the third National convention chaired by Rochester member, Sue Miller. 900 people attend. Colby Chandler, chairman and CEO of Eastman Kodak Company, receives the Walter T. Ridder Award. (Also delivers a spell-binding banquet speech.) 

Membership votes to increase dues to $15 per year. 

Barbara Kelley becomes Shhh Journal editor. The magazine is printed in 46,000 to 50,000 copies with an estimated 200,000 readers. 

Board ratifies guidelines on the sale of materials in SHHH Chapters. 

SHHH established a Development Office to raise funds to support the organization and ensure progress. 

Fire strikes the National office in April. Temporary quarters are rented for eight months while renovation takes place. The membership of SHHH gives over $80,000 to the “Fire Rebuilding Fund.” 

SHHH joins the Council of Organizations (COR), a strong voice of 17 National organizations concerned with hearing loss that provide a forum for issues of and for deaf and hard of hearing people. 

SHHH and the network advocate on Capitol Hill for a National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). The bill is signed in October. The appropriations committee agrees to 96.1 million funding for the new institute. Stone is appointed to the advisory council. 

SHHH, RSA (Rehabilitation Administration) and CSAVR (Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation Research) sign a co-operative agreement to provide better employment services to hard of hearing people. 

Several trustees attend the International Federation of Hard of Hearing Conference in Geneva, Switzerland (with many assistive listening devices). 

SHHH influences major hotel/motel chains to provide alerting/alarm equipment for guests.