HISTORY OF HEARING AIDS
A journey through the history of hearing aids
From the ear trumpet to modern hearing aids
Deafness and hearing loss have always been around. For a long time, it was believed that people who could not hear well also had additional disabilities. A misunderstanding that lasted, unfortunately, until the 16th century. Society discriminated against people with hearing loss for a very long time.
A Spanish monk named Pedro Ponce proved in the 16th century that there is no connection between people’s hearing ability and their intellectual capacity. Around 1530, he taught Pedro and Francisco, the deaf sons of the nobleman Juan Fernández de Velasco y Tovar, how to read, write, do math and speak.
The first hearing aids were ear trumpets. They were created in many different shapes and sizes. They were made from sheet iron, silver, wood, snail shells or animal horns. Some people did not want to admit to their hearing loss. Many attempts were made to conceal it. Some ear trumpets were hidden in fans, others were integrated into walking sticks. Some ear trumpets were even camouflaged as diamond-encrusted pieces of jewellery.
Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, taught deaf students, was married to a deaf woman and had a deaf mother. So his original goal was to transform spoken words into electric signals in order to make them visible to deaf people. When he realized that this technology could also be used to transmit speech over long distances, the telephone was born.
As the miniaturization of technology progressed, hearing aids, became ever smaller. In the 1940’s, the first pocket devices were introduced. In the early 1960’s, a design entered the market that is still available today: The behind-the-ear device (BTE). Since that time, hearing aid technology has undergone rapid development thanks to the progress of microelectronics.
Today’s hearing aids work with digital technology and are equipped with powerful computer chips. Many functions ensuring better sound quality, wireless connectivity and ever smaller dimensions are the defining characteristics of modern hearing solutions.