We could remember Professor Schindler as an unforgettable university professor, as the founder of scientific societies such as the European Phoniatric Union in 1971, the Italian Society of Phoniatrics and Speech Therapy in 1985, the Italian Study Group of Dysphagia in 2004, of the scientific popularizer with books that have marked the scientific culture, but among the many aspects that we could list in remembering him, the first that comes to mind is that of a generous person: he had the rare ability to share with everyone, regardless of the role covered, his experiences, simply for the pleasure of sharing and discussion. The term ‘maieuta’ could be used for him thanks to its ability to make those around him grow.
Born in Torre Pellice (TO) in 1936 and graduated in Medicine and Surgery in 1961, Oskar Schindler specialised in Otolaryngology in 1964. In 1981 he was appointed Associate Professor and, in 2001, Full Professor in Audiology and Phoniatrics at the University of Turin. From 1997 to 2008 he was Director of the S.C. of Audiology and Phoniatrics at the Molinette Hospital in Turin. Subsequently he maintained teaching in the various degree courses of the University of Turin.
Universally recognised among the creators of Italian Phoniatrics, we remember his intense teaching activity in ENT and in all the related specialties such as Audiology, Phoniatrics, Speech Therapy, Audiometry, Audioprosthesis, NPI, Neurophysiopathology, Otorhinolaryngology, Geriatrics and Physiotherapy, learning various courses of degree and in specialisation schools, followed and loved by students who appreciated his storytelling talent, his ability to improvise, and his profound humanity.
A great traveler, he spoke German, French, English and Spanish perfectly and had contacts with scholars from all over the world who had led him to lecture abroad, in Europe and Latin America.
Already at the end of the 60s of the last century he had the merit of considering hearing, voice and speech disorders as more complex phenomena and a strongly multidisciplinary character, connoting these disorders in the area of physiopathology of human communication, using the central concept of communication as a very broad and ductile semantic field, which proceeds dialectically from a purely linguistic pole (auditory-verbal-phonatory), to multimodal communication that runs through different channels (optical-mimic-gestural , optical, graphic-plastic), with more or less sophisticated and complex methods.
This intuition from the end of the 1970s has had a very strong impact on the Italian speech therapy area with the progressive extension of skills to all age groups of the population, including the elderly, and the progressive expansion of pathological pictures of rehabilitation interest.
At the end of the 80s, thanks to international and interdisciplinary collaborations, he was one of the founders of the deglutological science, considered as the study of the physiopathology of swallowing publishing, in 2000, the first edition of the text of Deglutology and since 2004 the creation of the University Master in Deglutology at the University of Turin, a master which still continues with an increasing demand for participation.
The profound personal culture and the interest in the different sectors of knowledge led Oskar Schindler to interact with the neighboring medical fields (ENT, audiology, neurology, psychiatry, child neuropsychiatry, dietology and clinical nutrition, physiatry, etc.) and non-medical (speech therapy, acoustics, linguistics, anthropology, ethology, pedagogy and teaching, sociology, etc.). In this sense he was a great stimulus, collaborating with many social agencies in the city of Turin and in Piemonte and in the rest of Italy.
When the news of his disappearance spread, all the people of his students huddled in a virtual embrace of messages and phone calls, as if it were the loss of a family member; certainly we have all lost a great father and friend who guided us in knowledge and professional rigor but he was also close to us with encouragement and advice.
We are left with his precious teachings and the task of continuing our work as he taught us to do.