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Hearing Aids


Danielle Johnston



Hearing Aids

     Over time hearing aids have changed dramatically. As in everything in this growing world, things are rapidly changing and becoming more and more advance. Hearing aids are a good example of one of those things that are becoming more advance in today's world. When you think about it, hearing aids serve many people throughout the world and are very essential to some. Hearing aids can serve people who are elderly and have started to lose some of their hearing, but they can also serve people who are deaf. Whether they were born deaf or sometime in their life they became deaf, hearing aids become an essential to these groups of people. People who are not deaf or hard of hearing may not realize the importance of hearing aids. Sometimes people who don't have problems are immune to the problems that others may face.

     The first hearing aid was developed in 1588 by Giovanni Battista Porta. The hearing aids were made much differently then they are today. They were made out of wood and were in the shape of animal ears. They had a "sharp sense of hearing". These shaped animal ear hearing aids were specially designed hearing aids. Other hearing aids during that time were "horn-shaped trumpets with a large open piece at one end that collected the sound". Compared to today the first hearing aids were a lot bigger. These horn shaped trumpets were huge, and did not rest easily in the ear like the ones today. These hearing aids had a tube attaching the funnel end to the trumpet end, which "funneled the sound into the ear".

     In the late 19th and early 20th century there were two great inventors by the names of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. Without these "two inventors it may not have been possible for the development of the modern hearing aid". Their contributions were very crucial to the development of hearing aids. Bells contribution was the fact that he "amplified sound in his telephone using a microphone and battery", which in turn was the concept that hearing aid factories used. Edison "changed sounds into electrical signals that were able to travel through wires and be converted back into sounds", this again was used in the first hearing aids.

     During the Industrial Revolution is when the "mass production of hearing aids" began. Throughout time starting in the 1800s many different companies began to create their own type of hearing aid. In 1920 is when hearing aids acquired vacuum tubes. Vacuum tubes made it that sound was more efficient, the problem that hearing aids still had is that their batteries were still huge. Finally by 1952, the hearing aid was able to be made smaller. This was the age of the "transistor hearing aids". These hearing aids now were designed with a on/off switch that is what helped make them much smaller. Interestingly these hearing aids were made to "fit within the frames of eyeglasses". It wasn't till later in time that they were designed to fit behind the ear. Then in the 1990s, this is when hearing aids went digital. Going digital made sound quality better and also more adjustable. Not only did they go digital but they also became programmable. As time continues, hearing aids change more and more to better adjust themselves for people in the world today. It's amazing how you see how much they developed from years ago to what they are today.

     Today there are five different types of hearing aids. The first type if the ITE (in the ear). This is a hearing aid that is large and will work well for people who have mild to severe hearing loss. It sits completely in the bowl of the ear. It is one of the most visible styles of hearing ais due to its size. The one good thing this hearing aid has compared to the smaller ones is the battery lasts longer. The second type of hearing aid is the ITC (in the canal). This hearing aid will work for mild to moderate hearing loss. It is designed to fit the ear canal. Due to it's small size it is very difficult to adjust it and change it's battery. The third type of hearing aid is CIC (completely in the canal). This hearing aid is for mild to moderate hearing loss. This hearing aid is smaller then the ITC hearing aid. It is designed to completely fit in the ear canal. The fourth type of hearing aid is the BTE (behind the ear). This hearing aid will work for mild to profound. This hearing aid sits behind the ear. This is also very ideal for children, due to the fact that it "can accommodate progressive hearing loss, as well as growth". The last time of hearing aid is the BTE (behind the ear open fit). This is the "newer version of the old BTE". The difference in this hearing aid from the old BTE is it helps with the problem of visibility. It also sits behind the ear but it is so small that you can barely see it.

     There is also something called Assistive Listening Devices or ALDs. The difference is that these will "expand the functionality of hearing aids and cochlear implants by helping separate the sounds you want to hear from background noise". It will also allow you to hear when someone is further away. This type of device consist of microphone, transmitter, receiver, and many different listening attachments. This type of listening device in particular is for people who may have difficulty hearing or understanding speech in many different places. It is not like hearing aids that deaf or hard of hearing people use. People who may be in meetings, movies, public places, etc that may find it difficult to hear people speak because of back ground noises this would be useful for.

     One other discussion involving hearing aids, is the difference between "hearing aids" and "hearing aides". Like discussed above hearing aids, are specially designed implants that help people hard of hearing or deaf able to hear people and their surroundings. Hearing aides are people who help those that are deaf or hard of hearing. To better explain an aide would be taking an example of a teachers aide, that is someone who helps a teacher in the classroom with his or her students. In the case of hearing aides, that aide would do the same function as in helping a person but they specialize in deaf or hard of hearing people. They assist them in their needs.

     Hearing aids are very interesting and have really developed over time. It is amazing how they started with just ideas and then progressively over time have created so many different types that are helpful in so many different situations. Over all hearing aids was a great invention and very essential invention, and to imagine a world without them would be very difficult. I may not be deaf, but I could only imagine how difficult it would be for so many without the invention of hearing aids.


Answers. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 June 2013.

Watson, Stephanie, ed. Discovery. Discovery Communications, n.d. Web. 26 June 2013.

Assistive Listening Devices. American Academy of Audiology, n.d. Web. 26 June 2013.

Also see: "HEARING-AID"

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