By David Fabry This article is a part of the January/February 2017, Volume 29, Number 1, Audiology Today issue. Dave Fabry: Thank you for taking the time with us today, Fred Bess, PhD. You were a founding member of the Academy, and our second president after Dr. Jim Jerger. You had been very active with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and had a burgeoning professional role at the Bill Wilkerson Center at Vanderbilt, with your teaching and research career there. What was your reasons for focusing your energies on the formation of a new professional organization? Fred Bess: The mid-1980s was a very difficult time for audiology. There was a lot of discontent, unhappiness, and unrest in the profession. I think that audiologists felt that they had no organizational home at that time, and that they had no control of their own destiny. You have to remember that, during that period, ASHA was governed primarily by speech-language pathologists. Often, they made decisions about audiology that audiologists did not agree with. Yes, and although they had a large member base, approaching 100,000 members (at the time), audiologists represented a small fraction of the overall total. I think that there was a general sentiment that they were taking audiology for granted; in their defense, I often heard that in terms of member resources per capita, the commitment to audiology far outpaced that devoted to their speech-language pathologist members. In addition, I think that they have made numerous attempts to correct that perception over time. There is no question that ASHA tried to correct the problem, but the general feeling was that it was too little, too late. I think that the biggest issue for me during that time centered around the discussions that took place regarding the development of a new Institute on Deafness with National Institutes of Health (NIH). In the initial stages of those discussions, ASHA opposed a separate institute on deafness, and if you were an audiologist, you had to ask the question of why? Why would our own professional organization oppose the creation of an institute that would be so important for the profession of audiology and for those who we are here to serve? Almost every organization that had anything to do with hearing favored the new institute. Speech-language pathologists, however, did not; they were content with their current home at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Eventually ASHA came on board and supported the effort. However, their initial reluctance to support the institute sent a huge message to all audiologists that something was very wrong, and that audiology was not being well represented by their professional organization. This content is an exclusive benefit for American Academy of Audiology members. If you're a member, log in and you'll get immediate access. Member Login If you're not yet a member, you'll be interested to know that joining not only gives you access to top-notch resources like this one, but also invitations to member-only events, inclusion in the member directory, participation in professional forums, and access to patient resources, tools, and continuing education. Join today!