early CID classroom with 4 students and 2 teachers, showing small class size and one-on-one instruction

CID – Central Institute for the Deaf was the first fully dedicated listening and spoken language school for children with hearing loss in the United States.

SINCE 1914

In 1914, Max Aaron Goldstein, MD, a renowned St. Louis ear, nose and throat physician, set out to do what most people believed impossible: teach deaf children to talk. He had earlier received postgraduate medical training in Europe. In Vienna, he met a professor teaching profoundly deaf children to talk using “remnants” of hearing. This experience became the genesis for his dream to convince the world that congenitally deaf children could learn to listen and speak intelligibly.

Dr. Goldstein began an aggressive campaign to pursue his dream when he opened Central Institute for the Deaf. His idea was to create a place where doctors and teachers would work together to improve ways to help deaf children. At first, he devoted two rooms of his St. Louis medical office to educating deaf children and training teachers of the deaf. His services included auditory-oral deaf education for children, counseling, a hearing clinic, lipreading instruction and speech correction for children and adults. To his ongoing medical research, he added studies using early devices such as hearing tubes and ear trumpets within a deaf education setting.

Leaders from the academic, business and medical communities supported Dr. Goldstein’s dream. The first CID school was completed in 1916. By the late 1920s, CID’s reputation for success had led to burgeoning enrollment and waiting lists. In 1929, a second building was added to house laboratories, school classrooms and dorms. Teachers measured children’s progress in response to new listening devices and educational strategies. Scientists came from throughout the world to study the anatomy of animals’ ears, the science of hearing devices, techniques for diagnosing deafness, psychology and deafness, the sound of deaf children’s voices and related topics.

From the beginning, Dr. Goldstein built CID’s reputation by demonstrating the school children’s success at professional conferences for doctors and teachers across the country. He was also a shrewd PR man, with an open-door policy for the press, for example, any time CID trialed a new hearing device in the classroom. Over time, hundreds of articles were written locally and nationally about CID.

In 1931, CID’s Teacher Training College affiliated with nearby Washington University, becoming the country’s first deaf education teacher training program to affiliate with a university. By 1947, when S. Richard Silverman, PhD, became director, CID offered graduate programs in deaf education, communication sciences and a new profession, audiology. CID scientists were instrumental in developing this field.

CID was a pioneer in the early intervention and education of deaf children. For the first two decades, it was the only school of its kind teaching 3-year-olds. In 1933, CID’s principal, Dr. Helen Schick, proved to the world that deaf children were equally as intelligent as children who could hear.  Later in that decade, CID teachers developed the Language Outline, an early model for teaching language, as opposed to just vocabulary, to children who were deaf and hard of hearing. In 1958, CID’s parent-infant program became the first program of its kind and a model for programs throughout the world.

In 1981, CID’s landmark EPIC Study proved that highly individualized, ability-grouped auditory-oral deaf education significantly increased the achievement of deaf school children. Since the 1980s, CID educational researchers produced a variety of educational tools, including the TAGS, GAEL, SPINE, CID Phonetic Inventory, ESP, CID SPICE and SPICE for Life auditory learning curricula, Small Talk and Early Listening at Home. CID curricula and resources are used across the country and worldwide in schools, clinics, university textbooks and the homes of families of babies with hearing loss.

In 2000, CID completed a new campus. The state-of-art facilities feature a specially designed “quiet school,” built for children learning speech and spoken language, and state-of-the-art research laboratories in the Harold W. Siebens Hearing Research Center.

In 2003, CID entered into a historic agreement to formalize ties with Washington University, its School of Medicine and Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. Under the terms of the agreement, Washington University School of Medicine assumed ownership and governance of several of CID’s programs, creating CID at Washington University School of Medicine. CID – Central Institute for the Deaf remains separate and financially independent from the University, which continues to operate CID-developed research, adult clinic and graduate education programs on the CID campus on Clayton Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri. At that time, the CID school created a new main entrance around the corner at 825 South Taylor Avenue.

Today, Central Institute for the Deaf and CID at Washington University School of Medicine continue a unique combination of education, research and clinical and community service to benefit children and adults who are deaf and hard of hearing. Here, working audiologists, teachers and scientists serve as graduate program faculty and graduate students gain experience in real-world settings, including the CID school. Work continues on the most progressive and promising techniques and technologies. CID school children benefit from a state-of-the-art facilities and from a staff on the leading edge of knowledge in deaf education, pediatric audiology and rehabilitative techniques.


Max Aaron Goldstein, MD

  • Born on April 19, 1870 in St. Louis to William and Hulda Goldstein, German emigrants
  • Graduated in 1892 from Missouri Medical College in St. Louis (a precursor to Washington University)
  • Interned at St. Louis City Hospital and did postgraduate work in London, at the University of Strasbourg and in Vienna with Dr. Adam Politzer, the father of modern otology
  • Learned about the acoustic approach to teach deaf children to talk from Victor Urbantschisch at the Vienna Polyclinic
  • Was a nationally and internationally respected ear, nose and throat physician, educator, medical researcher, inventor, author and editor
  • Founded CID – Central Institute for the Deaf in 1914 so parents, teachers and scientists/doctors could work together to help deaf children using the most effective methods. CID immediately became a place where the latest technology and methods were developed or employed – and tested.
  • Started CID with four students in rooms over his medical office at Vandeventer Avenue and Westminster Place in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Included within the original CID school the nation’s first teacher training program for aural-oral deaf education. This program evolved into the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences (PACS), one of a consortium of programs known as CID at Washington University School of Medicine.
  • Conducted early deafness research and published more than 100 articles, spanning professional interests from medical procedures to restore hearing, early audiological devices, hearing testing, auditory training and lipreading to psychological studies of deaf children to hearing in animals
  • Wrote two books, Problems of the Deaf (1933) and The Acoustic Method for Training of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (1939)
  • Invented one of the earliest hearing devices used in a classroom, the Simplex Tube
  • Using the Simplex Tube and another of his inventions, the harmonium, developed a system of testing and graphing hearing acuity before the audiometer was invented
  • Tested the hearing of all St. Louis school children
  • Traveled to professional conferences throughout the country, often bringing CID students to demonstrate the success of his school and methods
  • Founded The Laryngoscope, a medical journal still published today
  • Founded the journal, Oralism and Auralism, bringing science and education together to share knowledge
  • Established a hearing and deafness research department that became birthplace of the science and profession of audiology (forerunner of the Harold W. Siebens Hearing Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine)
  • Hired capable and sometimes world-famous individuals from varied scientific disciplines to come to CID to study, collaborate on basic knowledge and practical applications to help ameliorate deafness and teach deaf children to speak. Among them were Dr. Lorente de No, a renowned Spanish neuroanatomist who was the first CID director of research, Dr. C.C. Bunch, a famous physicist and author of one of the first widely used university textbooks on hearing, Drs. Max Meyer and Helen Schick, groundbreaking psychologists, Julia Connery, a pioneer in early education of deaf children who had studied under Alexander Graham Bell, and Mildred McGinnis, who defined congenital aphasia and developed the Association Method for teaching speech.
  • Collected and tested antique hearing devices and advertising, currently housed and exhibited by the Washington University Bernard Becker Medical Library.
Max Goldstein, MD

Max Aaron Goldstein, MD

Founding Director
CID – Central Institute for the Deaf, St. Louis

  • Started the Society of Progressive Oral Advocates, which eventually became the professional section of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Started the St. Louis League for the Hard of Hearing, which became St. Louis Hearing and Speech Center
  • Was lifelong friends with Helen Keller, taught her the “Two-Step”
  • Arranged a hearing test for famous baseball player Dizzy Dean after Dean was hit on the head with a ball in the 1934 World Series
  • Tried to have his own speech recorded, before calling a physician, when he suffered a stroke in December of 1940
  • Died on July 27, 1941 at his summer home in Frankfort, Michigan
  • Dr. Goldstein’s great granddaughter, Laurie Miller, helps carry on his dream today as a member of the CID board of directors. Miller cochaired the CID Centennial Celebration Committee.