by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote,
I think part of the problem is that with invisible hearing aids, our hearing losses are an invisible problem. I think if we had hearing aids as big as wheelchairs it would make people more attuned to the fact that we’re struggling to hear.
You are right of course. But would you want to live back in the times when hearing aids really were visible? For example, consider the Model 1A, the first hearing aid produced by RadioEar back in 1925. Then you really would be struggling. Not only was it not invisible (somewhat smaller than the size of your dining room buffet), but it would be difficult to lug around—weighing in at 185 pounds! Apparently it was a bit much for the ladies, so in 1929 they made some “minor” changes and got the weight down to a svelte 135 pounds! You then could almost put it in a wheelchair to lug it around!
Or try Western Electric’s first hearing aid, the Model 10-A of 1923. It came in a mahogany finished birch cabinet 4′ x 3′ x1′ and weighed a whopping 220 pounds! The price was $2,250 not including storage batteries and installation charges. That was 8.6 TIMES the cost of a brand new car at the time when you could buy a brand-new Model T for $260.00. In today’s equivalent dollars compared to the price of modern cars, that hearing aid would now cost somewhere around $129,000.00.
I think I’ll take my much smaller, lighter, less visible and cheaper hearing aids any day and just let people know I have a hearing loss when the subject comes up!
(Neil is also the owner and curator of “The Hearing Aid Museum“.)