UMass Amherst Professor E. Harris Nober Receives Career Award From the American Association of Audiology

AMHERST, Mass. - A University of Massachusetts professor, whose 40-year career has included designing flashing smoke detectors for the deaf and defining the threshold between hearing and feeling sounds in deaf children, has been given a top honor by the American Association of Audiology.

E. Harris Nober, professor of communication disorders in the UMass School of Public Health and Health Sciences, received the Career Award in Hearing from the association at its 10th anniversary conference held in Los Angeles, Calif., April 2-5. The honor comes as Nober is preparing to retire from the University at the end of this academic year. "I was very surprised when they contacted me," Nober says. "It’s a wonderful way to end my career."

Nober spent the early part of his career in a hospital setting as a speech-language pathologist. He worked with deaf children and helped define the standards used today to determine whether a child hears a loud sound, or feels it.

In 1978, Nober says, he shifted the focus of his research to household smoke detectors. He began by helping design smoke detectors that were effective in waking sleeping individuals with normal hearing. Nober and his UMass colleagues cooperated with federal authorities on the project and helped set today’s requirements for the devices. Using a remote control, Nober says, he and his assistants pre-wired more than 80 households with experimental smoke detectors and set them off without prior notice to test their effectiveness.

Next, Nober set out to design a smoke detector that would awaken the deaf and came up with a design that uses flashing strobe lights. Because of his work in this field, Nober was able to secure several million dollars in federal training and research grants for the University.

Nober is a fellow and charter member of the American Academy of Audiology and a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. He intends to continue his writing and research after his retirement in August 1998