Academy to bestow its highest honors at a banquet March 29 at AudiologyNOW!

David Kirkwood
March 26, 2012

BOSTON—Seven illustrious audiologists will be feted this Thursday evening during the annual Honors Banquet at AudiologyNOW! There, the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) will recognize a diverse group of high achievers, including two former presidents of the academy.


Brenda Ryals


The Jerger Career Award for Research in Audiology will be presented to Brenda M. Ryals, PhD, whose research has influenced both the science and practice of audiology, and has led to fundamental advances in auditory neuroscience. The Jerger Award is named for the founder and first president of AAA.

Ryals, the long-time director of the Auditory Research Laboratory at James Madison University, has focused in her research on issues of auditory plasticity and the neural and functional consequences of hair cell regeneration during development and after injury.

She also has a strong clinical background, which grounds her work in activities that inform practitioners as well as basic scientists, and that have the potential to benefit patients.

The honoree is deeply involved with her field’s scientific and professional communities. A past president of the American Auditory Society and a former member of AAA’s executive board, she is currently editor-in-chief of Ear and Hearing. She has served on numerous scientific review panels for the NIH, the Scientific Review Board of the Deafness Research Foundation, and the NIH/NIDCD National Research Advisory Council.



Earl Harford, PhD, a pioneer in audiology, will receive the Lybarger Award for Achievements in Industry, named for the inventor and engineer Samuel Lybarger who played a major role in the development of hearing care technology.

During his remarkably diverse 60-year career, Harford was a prominent professor of audiology at Northwestern University, directed the Wilkerson Center at Vanderbilt University, and, as a staff member at the University of Minnesota Medical School, was the first audiologist in the state to openly dispense hearing aids.

Earl Harford

His work led to the evolution of CROS and BICROS hearing aids and he helped introduce tympanometry and acoustic reflex measurements in the United States. From academia, he moved into private practice for six years, then joined Starkey Laboratories as director of university services. There, working with Dave Preves, PhD, he completed over 8000 real-ear measurements in the early 1980s, which demonstrated their validity for verifying the performance of ITE hearing aids and leading to the commercial development of real-ear measurements in the United States.

An advocate for audiology education, Harford originated the audiology internship program at Starkey and was an early supporter of the AuD degree.



Carol Flexer

Deborah Hayes

Jay Hall


Three audiologists have been selected to receive Distinguished Achievement Awards this year.

One is Deborah Hayes, PhD, a trailblazer in pediatric audiology, who is a professor at the Colorado School of Medicine and chair, audiology, speech pathology and learning services, at the Children’s Hospital in Denver. She has published significant research on various topics with such illustrious co-authors as James Jerger, Marion Downs, and Jerry Northern. Her textbook with Northern, Infant Hearing, is a mainstay of pediatric audiology.

As president of AAA in 1997-98, she was involved in changing the academy’s government structure and helped transition it from an organization run by volunteers to a professionally managed body. Hayes is a former president of the American Auditory Society, and, as chair of the Committee on Infant Hearing, played a major role in introducing universal screening of newborns for hearing loss.

Also being cited for distinguished achievement is James W. (Jay) Hall III, PhD, who has contributed to audiology in many ways, including as a founding member of AAA and, recently, as chair of the American Board of Audiology.

Hall is a distinguished academic, who is currently a professor of audiology at the University of Florida and at the University of Pretoria. A leading authority on objective and electrophysiological evaluation of the auditory system, he has written popular textbooks covering areas of evoked potentials, otoacoustic emissions, and other means of evaluating the auditory system.

Hall’s work has taken him far beyond academia—in fact, all over the world. He has published with colleagues from South Africa to India and has presented lectures to students, audiologists, and other professionals on every continent. In recent years, Hall and his South African colleague De Wet Swanepoel have been prime movers in the development of tele-audiology services capable of delivering hearing care to previously underserved people in the most remote corners of the world.

Carol Flexer, PhD, the other Distinguished Achievement Award winner, brings the same unbridled passion and enthusiasm to audiology that she shows to her myriad friends and colleagues. Her devotion to better listening, learning, and literacy for children with hearing loss has had a critical impact on the role of audiologists in the educational arena and has led to improved classroom acoustics and enhanced use of sound field technologies in schools.

Long involved in educating future audiologists, Flexer taught at the University of Akron for 25 years, where she was named a Distinguished Professor of Audiology. Today, she continues to lecture to national and international audiences about pediatric audiology issues. She has also written 155 publications and been co-editor/author of 11 textbooks.

Flexer is a past president of AAA and the Educational Audiology Association. Among her previous honors were the Volta Award and the Professional of the Year Award, both from the Alexander Graham Bell Association.

Birger Kollmeier


Birger Kollmeier, PhD, a professor at the University of Oldenburg and chair of the German Audiological Society, will receive AAA’s International Award in Hearing in recognition of important contributions worldwide. Kollmeier, who holds doctorates in both physics and medicine, has worked in hearing science, psychophysics, auditory electrophysiology, hearing aid development, and evidence-based hearing aid evaluation.

His practical approach to hearing sciences has led to advances in audiology, digital signal processing for hearing aids, speech intelligibility testing in German language, and diagnostics. The research group he founded and leads at the University of Oldenburg focuses on applying multidisciplinary knowledge of the auditory system to improving hearing aids.

His extensive and wide-ranging publications have expanded scientific knowledge worldwide, and several of his ideas have been patented and used in advanced hearing instruments.



Devangi Dalal

The academy’s Humanitarian Award will go to Devangi Dalal, an audiologist and speech therapist who has dedicated her career to improving the quality of life of hearing-impaired children in her native India.

Dalal has provided free hearing services to children in special schools for the deaf, mobilized the press and media to highlight the capabilities of hearing-impaired children, and lobbied bureaucrats, politicians, and non-government organizations (NGOs) for their support.

She established the Juvenile Organization of Speech and Hearing (JOSH), an NGO, to create awareness, educate, and empower hearing-impaired children.

In 2006, she adopted a school for the deaf in Mumbai, where none of the children had hearing aids. Since then, she has persuaded celebrities and NGOs to donate them. Now all 80 students have new binaural hearing aids, which she personally fitted gratis.

The banquet will be held March 29 from 6 to 8 pm in Grand Ballroom A of the Westin Hotel. A limited number of tickets (attendee $25, student $15) will be available at the registration counters until 4 pm on Wednesday.

birdsong hearing benefits

Leave a Reply