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Sep 28, 2022
Manuscripts – Consumers Organization for the Hearing Impaired, Inc., Records, 1977-1987
King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255
Consumers Organization for the Hearing Impaired, Inc. (COHI), 1977-1986
Consumers Organization for the Hearing Impaired, Inc., Records, 1977-1987
Gallaudet University Archives
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 193
Creator: Consumers Organization for the Hearing Impaired, Inc. (COHI)
Title: Consumers Organization for the Hearing Impaired, Inc., Records, 1977-1987
Quantity: 3.5 linear feet (7 document boxes)
Abstract: Records from the Consumers Organization for the Hearing Impaired (COHI), a nonprofit organization representing the needs and interests of the hard of hearing. Includes correspondence, publications, board and committee minutes, newsletters, and financial data.
Acquisition Information: Papers donated to Gallaudet University, 1994.
Processed By: Christopher Shea, [October] 2013.
Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.
Related Material in the Archives:
· Consumers Organization for the Hearing Impaired. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Associations
COHI was founded in 1977 out of a collaboration between the Washington Area Group for the Hard of Hearing (WAG-HOH) and the Organization for the Use of the Telephone (OUT). Both groups felt there was a need for a national society reflecting the interests of the hard of hearing. COHI’s members were drawn from those who preferred to communicate through lipreading and mechanical amplification rather than sign, and as such did not feel fully represented by the National Association of the Deaf or other deaf groups.
COHI’s first president, Dr. George Fellendorf, was a former executive director of the Alexander Graham Bell Association and was editor of The Volta Review from 1962 through 1978. Fellendorf remained as executive director after he was succeeded in the presidency by Charles Vlcek in 1980. COHI’s other presidents included Maxwell Schneider (1982), Robert Silber (1984) and Milt Jacobson (1985).
COHI lobbied the government on issues of interest to the hard of hearing and worked to draw attention to the challenges faced by the hearing impaired. COHI also provided members with information on hearing aids and other assistive technology, including new developments in the field and how to get the best use out of them.
During the mid-1980s, COHI collaborated with NAD to create an Assistive Devices Center at NAD’s headquarters, where new and improved devices could be showcased. COHI staff also worked on designing a catalog of hearing aids and other devices, although that project was abandoned in favor of giving the organization’s endorsement to the catalog of a hearing aid dealer, Mid-Audio.
At the time it closed down, COHI’s staff was working on a “cookbook” of directions for the hard of hearing who wished to build and/or improve their own amplifiers and other devices. Publication of this book was transferred to the National Association for Hearing and Speech Action (NAHSA). The remainder of COHI’s assets were either returned to WAG-HOH or given to the Veterans Organization for Hearing Impaired (VOHI).
Scope and Content
The bulk of these records cover the late 1970s and early 1980s (1979-1984), with a smaller amount of material from the later 1980s and very little from before 1979. The great majority correspondence and other material was created and collected by George Fellendorf, Maxwell Schneider, and Milt Jacobson, as well as COHI secretary Pam Bukowski. Other COHI officers, including Charles Vlcek and Robert Silber, are less well represented.
The records include extensive documentation of the board of directors via minutes, as well as a large collection of mostly undifferentiated correspondence. Also present is a nearly complete run of COHI’s The Reporter newsletter, a small amount of the group’s financial records, and some photographs of COHI members at meetings and events.
There is also a small collection of material from other groups dedicated to the deaf and hard of hearing, particularly IFHOH (the International Federation for the Hard of Hearing), which COHI had a close working relationship with. Other groups represented include COHI’s sponsors, WAG-HOH and OUT; Self Help for the Hard of Hearing (SHHH), a group with goals similar to COHI’s and which became the present-day Hearing Loss Association of America; and the New York League of the Hard of Hearing.
Series 1: Constitution and bylaws, 1977-1982
Includes copies of the original proposal for COHI and a description of its goals and methods, as well as the original bylaws and records from a 1982 revision.
Series 2: Board of directors records, 1979-1986
Minutes and agendas from COHI’s board of directors. This series also includes some memoranda, mostly related to scheduling meetings or planning agendas. Some of initial president and executive director George Fellendorf’s correspondence is also present; see series 5 for more.
The series also includes some material related to the election of COHI’s officers and board, including letters to the membership, lists of candidates, and ballots. Election materials are also included in series 4.
Series 3: Other committee records, 1979-1982
Minutes, correspondence, and reports from specific subject committees established by the Board. The Assistive Devices committee records include several reports on amplification technology by inventor John Lekas, who worked with COHI as a consultant. The Financial committee records include some reports from the treasurer; for more on this subject, see series 8.
Series 4: Annual meeting records, 1979-1982
Agendas and minutes from COHI’s annual membership meetings, as well as announcements and other correspondence to the membership about the meetings. Also includes a copy of George Fellendorf’s 1979 keynote speech and ballots from the 1981 election for the COHI board of directors. See series 2 for more election material.
Series 5: Correspondence, 1979-1986
General correspondence of COHI. Most correspondence is directly from the presidents, particularly George Fellendorf and Milt Jacobson. See series 7 for Maxwell Schneider’s correspondence. In Fellendorf’s case, this series also includes a set of “F-Grams,” mini-newsletters where he shared his thoughts and plans with the membership. Some of Fellendorf’s correspondence is also included in series 2 and 7.
This series includes correspondence with other groups and individuals, general letters to the membership, and requests for information and/or assistance from hard of hearing persons around the country.
See series 3 for some correspondence from COHI’s governing bodies.
Series 6: Publications, 1979-1986
Material created and published by COHI staff. Includes brochures; a set of COHI’s quarterly newsletter, The Reporter; and fact sheets, papers, releases, and other items on assistive devices, assembled to support the creation of the COHI device catalog.
Series 7: Maxwell Schneider correspondence and subject file, 1978-1983
A file created by Maxwell Schneider during his term as COHI president (1982-1983). Includes Mr. Schneider’s correspondence with other COHI members and officers; letters and publications from WAG-HOH, the New York League of the Hard of Hearing, and other groups in the same field as COHI; and material on subjects of interest to the group, such as assistive devices.
Series 8: Financial records, 1977-1987
Most of this series consists of COHI’s daily cash book and ledgers. It also includes preliminary budget work and some quarterly financial reports issued by the group’s treasurer, as well as a contract for a personal loan from Maxwell Schneider to COHI. See the financial committee reports in series 3 for similar information.
Series 9: Member lists, 1980-1986
Mailing lists of COHI’s member individuals and organizations, covering several years of the group’s history.
Series 10: IFHOH records, 1980-1986
Records from the International Federation of the Hard of Hearing, a group based in Europe. COHI was closely affiliated with IFHOH, and raised money by selling copies of IFHOH’s conference proceedings in the US. Includes minutes of IFHOH’s meetings, some correspondence, and an incomplete run of IFHOH’s journal. One unusual item in this collection is a vinyl record produced by a Swedish hard of hearing group, which holds songs and poems about hearing loss.
Series 11: Other group records, 1979-1986
A collection of material from groups with similar outlook and aims to COHI, particularly its founding groups WAG-HOH and OUT. The bulk of the collection consists of newsletters, brochures, and press releases. See series 7 for more material from other groups for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Series 12: Photographs, 1981
A small collection of mostly black-and-white snapshots, with a few slides and negatives included. Most of the photographs are unlabeled but seem to have been taken at COHI meetings and events.
Series Description and Folder Lists
Gallaudet University, chartered in 1864, is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing students.
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