FAQ – Answer 5

Why are you called the Ewing Foundation?

The Ewing Foundation was set up in 1952 by Mr and Mrs Malcom McAlpine, whose deaf son had benefited dramatically from the help and advice of Sir Alexander and Lady Irene Ewing. Sir Alexander was Professor of the world-renowned Department of Audiology and Education of the Deaf at Manchester University. The Ewings were pioneers in enabling deaf children to communicate in the hearing world using spoken language. They were instrumental in developing behavioural hearing tests for babies, rightly convinced that early diagnosis of deafness together with good early support would give deaf children the best start in achieving this goal. The Distraction Test was used as a universal screening test by Health Visitors and doctors in the UK for about 50 years, and although now superceded by neonatal screening, is still the best available ascertainment tool in many parts of the world. The Ewing Foundation still sells high-frequency rattles, the only piece of equipment needed for the Distraction Test, to many countries overseas.

The Ewing Foundation started, and continues to have, a base at Manchester University. The ‘man in the van’ was a specialist technician who visited schools to help maintain expensive teaching equipment such as auditory training units, and show how they could be used to best effect. In the early days, support and guidance was also given to families at the University, and the Ewing Foundation funded research that demonstrated the effectiveness of this work. This ultimately contributed to the establishment and development of Local Education Authority peripatetic services for pre-school deaf children and their families across the country.

Today, the Ewing Foundation supports teachers and other professionals working with deaf children by keeping them up to date with the latest and best specialist practice and technology. Its staff ‘alumni’ include nationally and internationally known experts in the field of good auditory-oral practice for deaf children.