Mission and History
Clear and effective communication is a necessity; there is a compelling need to understand and to be understood. HASA supports and facilitates individual choice in how to communicate. Our audiology, education, interpreting and speech-language services enable effective communication for individuals and families.
On November 18, 1926, Miss Olive Whildin helped start the Speech Readers’ League of Baltimore. “The League” was designed to be a community center for the hard of hearing, promote interest in and study of speech reading, work for the advancement and welfare of the hard of hearing, provide recreational opportunities for its members, and encourage research into the prevention of deafness. Monthly meetings, parties, teas and picnics were well attended.
Yet even as far back as 1927, the League offered members and the general public vital social services, all free of charge. Lip-reading classes were held at League headquarters; students showcased their skills in staged “tournaments.” During the 1930s, the League—by then known as the League for the Hard of Hearing—inaugurated a hearing-aid demonstration program to enable people to “test drive” different models. Used hearing aids were loaned to those who couldn’t afford to buy them; financial aid and free batteries for hearing aids were provided, as well.
On August 31, 1940, The League became a member of the Community Fund, now known as The United Way. For the first time, League directors had the budget to relocate, expand programs and add professional staff. For many years following, the Community Fund played a major part in the organization’s success. After World War II improved technology and refinement of rehabilitation led to a staff that consisted mostly of trained specialists. Eventually, a scale of fees for most services was gradually introduced, with reduced fees available for low-income clients.
With the inauguration of Gateway School and a speech-language therapy program in 1960, what was once a small private club was now a large organization serving hundreds of patients and clients each year. To reflect such growth in mission, in 1966 the organization changed its name to The Hearing and Speech Agency of Metropolitan Baltimore.
By 1975 the Agency had outgrown its headquarters at 928 N. Charles Street and, thanks to its first capital campaign, purchased old Goucher Hall at 2220 St. Paul Street. In 1986 HASA established the Centralized Interpreter Referral Service (CIRS) to enable private and public agencies, businesses, and organizations to offer accessible services by linking interpreters with deaf and hard of hearing consumers. HASA’s latest milestone: In November 2003 the Agency moved into its newly constructed facility, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building, 5900 Metro Drive, located in Baltimore City, just off Northern Parkway.
A private, nonprofit organization located in Baltimore City, The Hearing and Speech Agency leads the way as a direct service provider, information resource center, and advocate for people of all ages and incomes who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech-language disabilities.