Viktor Urbantchitch


Viktor Urbantschitsch studied at the University of Vienna, receiving his medical doctorate in 1870 and his surgical degree in 1871. In 1873 he obtained his credential for teaching otology at the University of Vienna and several years later was named head of the Otology Department at the General Polyclinic in Vienna. In 1885 he became an associate professor and in 1907 succeeded Adam Politzer as head of the university ear hospital.

Urbantshitsch’s research on the anatomy of the auditory tube formed the basis for the treatment of diseases of the eustachian tube and the middle ear. Beyond these contributions, and the one he was most known for was to design ways to teach speech to the deaf. He trained deaf children to imitate single sounds and short sentences presented to them. He also used a specially constructed harmonica to stimulate audition.

Urbantschitsch’s opened a school for the deaf on the outskirts of Vienna, called the Institution for the Deaf at Oberdoebling.

Urbantschitsch described the auditory potential of most children who were deaf. As noted by Silverman (in the 1981 translation of the work from German) Urbantschitsch’s central argument was “that the education and ultimately the emotional and social adjustment of profoundly deaf children could be facilitated by methodical and persistent auditory training (exercises) that exploited any remnant of residual hearing by stimulating what he termed a dormant auditory sense” (p. viii). Similarly Max Goldstein, founder of the Central Institute for the Deaf in 1914, has been credited with founding the Acoustic Method (1939) and advancing the notion regarding the power of audition for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The U.S. Auditory-Verbal pioneers, Helen Beebe and Doreen Pollack, exploited this belief that most “deaf” children had some remaining hearing that, coupled with the advent of wearable hearing aids, allowed Auditory-Verbal teaching so that children who were deaf or hard of hearing could learn to listen, to process verbal language, and to talk.


Urbantschitsch, V. (1892) Auditory training for deaf mutism and acquired deafness. Washington, D.C. : Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.

Goldstein, Max (1895). The possibility of obtaining marked improvement in the treatment of deafness and supposed deaf-mutism by acoustic gymnastics-a system of vocal training of the auditory nerve, as advocated by Professor Urbantschitsch of Vienna on Urbantschitsch method of “acoustic gymnastics”, Archives of Otology, 24, 1, 50-55.

Quing, C. & Knerer, B. (2005). History of otorhinolaryngology in Austria from 1870 to 1920. Journal of Laryngology and Otology, 119, 4-7.