A Pot of Gold

Speaking from the Volta Bureau Spring banner

Emilio Alonso-Mendoza summer

Dear Alexander Graham Bell Community,

St. Patrick's Day always strikes me as a fun holiday because of all the imagery that surrounds it - leprechauns with their pots of gold, rainbows and shamrocks. It's fun to see how many of us enjoy the "wearing of the green" even if our roots never came anywhere near the Emerald Isle.

I'd like to highlight one of our lifelong members, who has created a "pot of gold" for so many families touched by hearing loss. With his ability to customize, revitalize and create effective and progressive programs, Warren Estabrooks, LSLS Cert. AVT, has truly earned the inaugural AG Bell International Service Award for his work in advancing listening and spoken language around the world. He has been instrumental in advancing our field globally by giving professionals and parents the skills to help children listen and talk. These countries now have professionals who can give the children of tomorrow a voice that can be heard around the world and not limited by a lack of information and knowledge about listening and spoken language.

The AG Bell awards have a rich, 50-year history of recognizing those who have made the world a better place for children and adults with hearing loss by advancing listening and spoken language for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. AG Bell is honored to present Warren with this award as an individual who has been an instrumental force in changing the world for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. He has demonstrated outstanding and sustained accomplishments in international service by advancing listening and spoken language, promoting the Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS®) certification, improving the delivery of services, and advocating for the rights of people with hearing loss everywhere. 

Estabrooks has made significant contributions to the literature, including AG Bell's 101 FAQs About Auditory-Verbal Practice (2012) and Plural's Auditory-Verbal Therapy for Young Children with Hearing Loss and Their Families, and the Practitioners Who Guide Them (2016).

He was a founding director of the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language. He is an honorary director of Bundesverein für Auditiv-Verbale Therapie Deutschland (BVAVT). Estabrooks has received numerous global awards including the AG Bell Professional of the Year and the Susan Schmid-Giovannini Award and has been honored by the naming of the Warren Estabrooks Center in the Wickramarachchi Speech and Hearing Institute (WISH) in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

"I am blessed to be part of this great profession and I thank you for this honor," Warren affirmed. "It is really about all of us." Warren is well-traveled and admired by peers, students and fellow educators worldwide. His travel and teaching have taken him from the Middle East to South Africa, from South America to Europe and the Asian Pacific, continuing to train as his profession, network and experience is always evolving. Estabrooks is still following the rainbow with more experiences to add to his own pot of gold. He continues to share his wealth of knowledge, transforming lives and giving families hope to hear and talk and reach stellar levels of potential. 

 Warren Estabrooks with a student and parent  

Warren began his career as a teacher, but was inspired to enter a teacher training program for children with hearing loss, after a friend's daughter became deafened by meningitis. There he was greatly influenced by Daniel Ling's foundational book Speech and Hearing Impaired Child: Theory and Practice. After teaching at the Toronto School for the Deaf for three years, he was recruited to direct the "auditory training" program at North York General Hospital where he spent 27 years, and along with a dedicated and progressive team, created a caring auditory-verbal learning center for hundreds of children and their families. 

Although we are all gifted with unique sets of skills and abilities, we decide whether or not to make extraordinary things happen in this world. As Maya Angelou quoted, "Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud," and that is an attribute Estabrooks consistently exhibits for children all over the world. It is because of people like Estabrooks who is no stranger to all the amazing qualities this rainbow requires: determination, passion, hard work and resourcefulness, that we are continuously able to boost and energize children, parents and educators about our services. We all can agree that it is never too early to give a child a head start. 

"I will never forget my first meeting with Warren Estabrooks. It was at a conference in Sweden in 2003 where he was the keynote speaker. Imagine a crowd of several hundred people joining along to the Six Sound Song! It was like the audience was spellbound," recalls Anna Persson, M.Ed., LSLS Cert. AVEd, of Sweden and one of the first LSLS certified educators in Scandinavia. "Learning to talk through listening was a new way of thinking in our country and it was challenging work for all of us. After that conference, an opportunity from heaven opened up. Thanks to Warren, his humble attitude, his understanding of our cultural differences, and his patience and full support on all levels, we made it! We have provided a national training program in auditory-verbal therapy for 10 years."

Estabrooks has dedicated his life to research, education and advocacy to keep children moving forward in society at the highest level of potential possible. It is an honor for me to congratulate and recognize Warren Estabrooks for his timeless contribution to society and the future of children with hearing loss. I want to encourage you to join me in celebrating Warren and the many heroes in our daily lives through social media - use #AGBell as you do things that make a difference. Post pictures, videos and memes and we will highlight one a week on our social media platforms.

As we consider the future for our children, one that Warren Estabrooks has contributed to making possible, keep in mind the opportunities that the AG Bell Convention brings to families and professionals to keep advancing listening and spoken language. And don't forget the impact that LOFT has on our teens as they become young adults. The applications for scholarships to the Convention and registration for LOFT closes this Friday, March 18 - be sure to submit yours now by visiting www.agbellloft.com. Or make a gift to AG Bell to keep those opportunities open for our children.  

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all!

Watch for next week's article on Kathleen Treni, 2016 Honors of the Association Award recipient!


Emilio Alonso-Mendoza
[email protected]


Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.

- Lucius Annaeus Seneca