Alexander and Irene Ewing were internationally renowned figures in the field of deaf education, and helped establish the highly-regarded department of education of the deaf and audiology at the University of Manchester.
Alexander William Gordon Ewing (1896-1980) graduated at the University of Edinburgh and worked at the Royal Institute of the Deaf there. In 1920 he took a one year course in Manchester under Irene Goldsack, and gained a first class in the teacher's diploma and certificate for teachers of the deaf. He was one of the first students of the University's department of education of the deaf, which had been set up in 1919, which had been endowed the cotton magnate, Sir James Jones. In 1922 Ewing returned to Manchester and married Irene Goldsack, opening an audiology clinic in 1922. In 1926 he became an assistant lecturer in speech training and carried on building up his reputation. With the encouragement of J.S.B. Stopford, (professor of anatomy) Alexander Ewing took a Ph.D. in the Faculty of Medicine at Manchester in 1929. Ewing was appointed director of the Department of the Education of the Deaf in 1944, being promoted to professor in 1949. Ewing developed the Department bringing in staff and students, and developing a research programme. The Department also undertook pioneering work in developing electronic hearing aids for the deaf. He was knighted in 1958. Following the death of his wife in 1959, Sir Alexander remarried in 1961 to Ethel Constance Goldsack (1899-1981), who had formerly worked at the Royal Manchester Schools of the Deaf. She too was a writer on deaf education topics.
Irene Ewing (né Goldsack) (1883-1959) was the first residential teacher at the pioneering Royal Schools for the Deaf, Manchester in 1912. She had helped develop an intensive programme of lip-reading and speech for pupils. Goldsack paid particular care to ensure students were given a broad-based education, and it was noted that her pupils performed better than those deaf children who had received a more traditional education. In 1919, when the University of Manchester established a lectureship for training teachers of the deaf on the oral method of teaching, Goldsack was appointed to this post. In effect this was the beginning of the Department of Audiology and Education in the University. She was promoted to reader in education of the deaf in 1934. The Department of Education of the Deaf became fully independent in the same year (as part of the Faculty of Education), and moved to new premises in Lime Grove. She married Alexander Ewing, a former pupil in 1922. Together they gained the Department a worldwide reputation for development and innovation in the field of oral education of the deaf. She was appointed OBE in 1944. Irene Ewing died on 16 July 1959.
The Ewings were particularly influential in promoting the use of spoken language as a means of communication by the deaf. They advocated early testing of children to identify deafness, and promoted appropriate educational and welfare tools to assist deaf children, such as parent guidance programmes, units for partially hearing children and educational integration programmes. The Ewings outlined their educational ideas in Speech and the Deaf Child (1954).