Most people know that John Quincy Adams was the 6th president of the United States. However, John Q. Adams was also an important person to the field of hearing. Adams was so intrigued by the ear, nose and throat that there is now a museum in his name in Alexandria, Virginia, called the John Q. Adams Center for History of Otolaryngology. This museum houses over 100 different types of hearing aids, with examples of nearly every type of hearing device!
Hearing Aids Find PurposeHearing aids throughout history have all had one singular goal: to improve speech understanding. Ear trumpets or horns were one of the first types of assistive listening devices. They were first used by sailors to hear distant speech and later adapted for hearing impaired listeners. The first was invented by Jean Leurechon in his 1624 book, Recreation Mathmatiques.
The Rise of Hearing Aids
Politicians and famous individuals have help the industry to grow. President Reagan, popularly known as “The Great Communicator” increased public awareness about hearing loss. He was the first president to openly acknowledge needing hearing aids. His hearing loss, communication needs, fitting and consistent use of hearing aids was made public following a story in “Parade” magazine, as well as numerous articles in newspapers and weekly news magazines.
The publicity created a sudden increase in consumer demand for hearing aids that threatened to end or at least damage the industry as manufacturers struggled to meet the needs for increased orders. More than 28 million Americans – about 10% of the population – experience hearing loss. Approximately 95% of these individuals can correct their problem with hearing aids.
There have been many others to wear hearing aids. They include:
- President Bill Clinton
- General Norman Schwarzkopf
- US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop
- Vinton Cerf – “Father of the Internet”
- Buzz Aldrin – Astronaut
- Scott Carpenter – Astronaut
- Gene Autry – Actor
- Ernest Borgnine – Actor
- Leslie Nielsen – Actor/Comedian
- Huey Lewis – Musician
- Marc Herndon – Musician (Country Group Alabama)
- Lou Ferrigno – Actor/Athlete
- Arnold Palmer – Golfer
- Al Unser – Race Car Driver
- Bobby Unser – Race Car Driver
- Mike Singletary – Chicago Bears (Hall of Fame)
- Larry Brown – Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl MVP)
- Stan Musical – St Louis Cardinals (Hall of Fame)
- Bob Feller – Cleveland Indians (Hall of Fame)