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1800: Eartrumpets

1800: Eartrumpets

The first firm to begin commercial production of the ear trumpet was established by Frederick C. Rein in London in 1800.

Davis & Kidder’s patented Magneto-Electric Machine, c.1880

1880: Electrotherapy

As electricity became a part of everyday lives in the nineteenth-century, practitioners became excited about its applications for deafness and other ailments.

Source: Hearing Health Matters

1898: Invention of the electrical hearing aid

The first electronic hearing aids were constructed after the invention of the telephone and microphone in the 1870s and 1880s. The technology within the telephone increased how acoustic signal could be altered. Telephones were able to control the loudness, frequency, and distortion of sounds. These abilities were used in the creation of the hearing aid.

1900 - 1972: Emerson Romero

Emerson Romero  was a Cuban-American silent film actor who worked under the screen name Tommy Albert. Romero developed the first technique to provide captions for sound films, making them accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing; his efforts inspired the invention of the captioning technique in use in films and movies today.

20th century violet ray machine

1900: Ultraviolet Therapy

Ultraviolet therapy arose during the late nineteenth-century and early twentieth century to compliment the growing use of electrotherapy by using high-frequency electric current, in attempts to cure deafness.

1927 - 1989: Malcolm J. Norwood –  The Father of Closed Captioning

1927 - 1989: Malcolm J. Norwood – The Father of Closed Captioning

As television developed in the 1950s and 1960s the deaf were virtually left out.  As the head of DCMP, Norwood became a leading advocate for the development of closed captioning on television and was singularly responsible for popularizing the captioning technique now used in television.  

1964 - ...: Videotelephony for deaf people

1964 - ...: Videotelephony for deaf people

One of the first demonstrations of the ability for telecommunications to help sign language users communicate with each other occurred when AT&T's videophone (trademarked as the 'Picturephone') was introduced to the public at the 1964 New York World's Fair –two deaf users were able to freely communicate with each other between the fair and another city.

1964: Invention of the Text Telephone (TTY)

1964: Invention of the Text Telephone (TTY)

The TTY came into being because of a deaf man named Robert Weitbrecht, the device's inventor.

Weitbrecht was born in 1920 and died in 1983. Born deaf, he had difficulty learning to talk and was teased for his disability. He grew up to become an astronomer, physicist, and a licensed ham radio operator. Many people don't know that he also worked on the Manhattan project and invented the Geiger counter to measure radioactivity. However, it was his experience as a ham radio operator that led to the development of the TTY.

In the late 1970’s and through the 1980’s, much smaller and compact versions of the TTY were manufactured, marketed, and made available through state TTY equipment distribution programs.

1967 - ..: Invention of the Cochlear Implant by Graeme Clark

1967 - ..: Invention of the Cochlear Implant by Graeme Clark

In the mid-1960s, while working as an ear surgeon in Melbourne, Australia, Professor Clark came upon a scientific paper by Blair Simmons in the US. It described how a profoundly deaf person received hearing sensations through electrical stimulation, but no speech understanding. The seed was planted, and in 1967 he began researching the possibility of an electronic, implantable hearing device: a cochlear implant.

In 1978, the first cochlear implant surgery took place. And he and his dedicated team discovered in 1978 how speech could be coded with multi-channel electrical stimulation. Professor Clark’s determination had paid off.

From his success, Cochlear Limited was born. Its purpose: to make Professor Clark’s innovative multi-channel cochlear implant commercially available all over the world. Today, hundreds of thousands of severely or profoundly deaf children and adults worldwide have received a cochlear implant from Cochlear. 

Source: https://www.cochlear.com/intl/about/company-information/history-of-innovation/about-graeme-clark


1979 - ...Closed Captions and Subtitles for deaf and hard-of-hearing people

1979 - ...Closed Captions and Subtitles for deaf and hard-of-hearing people

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the UK was the first broadcaster to include closed captions (subtitles in the UK) in 1979 based on the Teletext framework for pre-recorded programming. It now offers a 100% broadcast captioning service across all 7 of its main broadcast channels.

1992 - ...:  Text messaging (SMS, Whatsapp)

1992 - ...: Text messaging (SMS, Whatsapp)

SMS (short message service) is the text messaging service component of most telephone, Internet, and mobile device systems. Since it is used by most hearing people, it gives deaf people direct abd independent access to long distance communication with both hearing and deaf people.