Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



A History of the Audiology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:1920-2015, T. N. Decker, 2016


Copyright (c) 2016 T. Newell Decker


Programs for the hearing impaired have been in existence at the University of Nebraska for many years. However, there is no comprehensive history of these efforts. This work is an attempt to provide a complete picture of these programs and to detail the history and growth of the Audiology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. When the author came to the University in 1977 audiology was already well established at the University as well as in the State. After joining the faculty, the author served in the capacity of Coordinator of the Audiology and Hearing Science Program from 1977 until his retirement in 2011 and so, is in a unique position to compile this history.

As well be seen, the audiology program at UNL has been under steady development since the very early years. In addition, its focus has grown from one of educating teachers about the causes and effects of hearing loss, to providing therapeutic programs for those who have speech and hearing disabilities and providing a four year, post-baccalaureate professional degree in the form of the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.)

Audiology as a profession and course of study is an outgrowth of the profession of “speech correction” later called Speech Pathology or Speech-Language Pathology. Many of those who early on referred to themselves as “audiologists” were in fact trained in the speech pathology realm and saw a connection between hearing impairment and distorted speech and language. Thus, it is completely appropriate to begin this historical account with those early “speech correctionists-audiologists”. It is also the case that the growth of the audiology program is closely tied to the development of the Barkley Memorial Center on East Campus. For that reason, some mention will be made of the conception and construction of the Barkley Center.

As previously stated, there is no central compendium of information about the development of audiology in Nebraska. The author is grateful to the Archives of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, people with past ties to the program and who allowed themselves to be interviewed, and professional colleagues at Nebraska and elsewhere who had memories to share.

Errors of omission are solely those of the author.