St. Louis has a rich history as a hub for audiology and the deaf community, with many leaders in the field studying, researching, and practicing here.

Deaf education historical photo

Central Institute for the Deaf

Central Institute for the Deaf (CID), located on our campus, has been a national leader in deaf education and research for more than a century. In 1914, CID was founded to serve people who were deaf or hard of hearing. Washington University and CID joined forces in 1931, when CID’s established teacher training program became the first deaf education undergraduate program to affiliate with a university. Graduate programs soon followed.

During World War II, CID’s research on hearing loss in military personnel laid the foundation for the field of audiology. CID also pioneered hearing testing, digital hearing aids, and hearing research, and opened the country’s first hearing aid clinic in 1941. In September 2003, a new affiliation transferred CID’s graduate degree programs, research programs, and adult audiology clinic, along with its building, to Washington University School of Medicine. The CID school continues to operate on the School of Medicine campus.

Today, these programs continue to work together to fulfill a shared mission to serve people who are deaf or hard of hearing.


Child Education

  • First parent-infant program for hearing-impaired children (1958)
  • Development of materials for assessment of early speech perception and word-recognition skills in children and adults (since 1914)

Graduate Education

  • First deaf-education teacher training program affiliated with a university (1931)
  • First deaf education master’s program (1936)
  • One of the first established audiology training programs in the country (1947)


  • Development of digital hearing-aid technology (early 1980s)
  • Seminal findings about how the ear works, hearing loss and rehabilitation (since 1930)
  • Leading textbooks in the field (since 1930s)
  • Leaders in NIH funding

Clinical Care

  • One of the country’s first-established otolaryngology departments (1896)
  • Nation’s first hearing aid clinic (1941)
  • Development of commonly used materials for speech recognition testing in adults and children (since 1952)
  • Conducted the country’s first NIH-funded investigations on pediatric cochlear implantation (since 1980s)