Curran has a masters of science degree in communicative disorders from the University of Wisconsin, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Audiology from 1991 to 1995 and a member of the Executive Committee of the American Auditory Society from 1989 to 1995. He has been membership chair for the American Academy of Audiology from 1993 to 1995, and a founding member of the Minnesota Academy of Audiology. He was one of the first audiologists to dispense hearing aids, opening his private practice dispensing office in 1967. He was also one of the first of a group of pioneering audiologists to be employed in the hearing aid industry, beginning in 1970 with the primary goal of educating and training hearing aid dispensing professionals.
Early on, Curran taught techniques for systematic hearing aid selection and fitting, as well as verification techniques for assessing the amount of hearing aid benefit. Since that time, it has become routine for all major hearing aid manufacturers to employ audiologists working in research, development, customer service and sales. Through the years, he has been a prolific author of numerous articles and textbook chapters about hearing aid technology. Curran has also given many presentations, seminars, workshops, and short courses about hearing aid technology at state, national and international meetings. Among his early interests was making known the benefits of open hearing aid fittings for reducing occlusion and shaping the frequency response to reduce low frequency noise. Open fittings are a significant percentage of hearing aid fittings today, but not all audiologists know that they have been utilized since the 1970s. Curran has written many early and seminal articles about various aspects of earmold acoustics and earmold modifications for fine-tuning hearing aid frequency responses. He has deep knowledge and perspective about the interrelationship of important historical events and technological advances in our field. To obtain an appreciation of the depth of the historical perspective that he commands, please see, as an example, his recent article in Innovations Magazine, vol. 1, #2, 2011.
For over 40 years, Curran has been a highly effective educator and an ambassador of good will for the hearing aid industry. He has been a fine example of the benefits an audiologist can provide to the industry, bringing deep experience and well-founded advice for younger audiologists and company executives. He is uniquely qualified to receive the Samuel F. Lybarger Award to acknowledge his many significant contributions to the hearing aid industry. Our congratulations to James R. Curran.