U.S. History Lesson 101: Presidents and Prominent Figures Known to Have Hearing Loss
American Presidents and Hearing Aid Usage
When hearing aids first became available to the public, not many people wanted to publicize their hearing loss.
Even though there's still a stigma for those with hearing loss, wearing hearing aids has become normalized and supported by professionals and loved ones.
Many American presidents since Ronald Reagan have worn hearing aids in public. They wanted to expand their visibility and confront negative stereotypes about those who have hearing loss. Having a respected public figure who wears hearing aids can encourage others to get treated for their own hearing loss.
Hearing loss has affected American presidents since the country was established. Here's a list of ten presidents who are known to have hearing loss.
Our first president encountered sonorous sounds from the war prior to taking office. Records from the end of George Washington's life frequently indicated that he struggled to follow along in conversations.
Thomas Jefferson was fully aware that he had difficulty hearing and frequently wrote about it. He was most likely over-exposed to the sounds of hunting rifles. In 1819, he wrote that his hearing "is distinct in particular conversation, but confused when several voices crossed each other, which unfits me for the society of the table." This situation is known as the Cocktail Party Effect and has been studied by hearing aid designers for years.
Modern hearing aids filter out background noise from busy rooms by separating the sounds that come from the direction of your attention.
Following his final term in office, Theodore Roosevelt received surgery after his eardrum ruptured. When the abscess was extracted, Roosevelt lost hearing in his left ear.
Herbert Hoover suffered from age-related hearing loss. He was fitted with a pair of hearing aids. His hearing loss and cognitive abilities made it difficult for others to understand him as he aged. He openly used hearing aids, which encouraged others to get their hearing checked.
Even though Ronald Reagan served in the military, he lost some of his hearing from a blank that was shot from a gun. The blank fired off too close to him, and he lost hearing in one ear. At his inauguration in 1983, he became the first U.S. president to wear hearing aids in office. This helped push both sales and research.
After playing the saxophone for years, and due to his age, Bill Clinton experienced noise-induced hearing loss. He wears nearly invisible, in-the-canal hearing aids. To this day, he encourages hearing aid usage and focuses on the importance of getting a hearing test.
Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush
These four presidents did not wear hearing aids while they were president, but were fitted for hearing aid devices after finishing their term. They were all fitted shortly after their hearing loss began, which allowed them to stop further loss. As a result, they were able to promote their charities and policy-related efforts.
In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. This significant piece of legislation helped prevent workplace discrimination for those with hearing loss and other disabilities.
There were other prominent Americans with hearing loss, and those who made contributions for individuals with hearing loss.
She escaped slavery and contributed to the abolitionist and women's rights movements. At the end of her life, it was reported that she was almost completely deaf by the time she passed away.
In 1894, a bill was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln which permitted the development of a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. Today, it is known as Gallaudet University.
Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge
The former First Lady and wife of Calvin Coolidge was a teacher at the Clarke Institute for the Deaf in Massachusetts. She used her experience from working with disabled children to advocate the need for quality education and employment for those with hearing loss.
She is the first deaf African American female attorney in the U.S. After her career as a lawyer who fought discrimination after experiencing prejudice in Jamaica, her home country, she acquired her current job at the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. She saw firsthand how people with mental or physical disabilities were abused by others and the state. She currently works to fight for the rights of those with disabilities.
Protect Your Hearing Health
Hearing aids have been used by prominent figures throughout history. These well-known individuals helped so many others who are suffering from hearing loss. It allows them to be honest about their condition and seek help from a professional.
Modern hearing aids are discreet and offer several features, such as Bluetooth® streaming, or tracking your brain and body health, in addition to helping you hear better. If you have concerns about your hearing, or believe a loved one may have hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation.
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