The Station Wagon podcast: Seattle - Snoqualmie - Olympia: Episode 13: Giving up Good Hearing

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Episode 13: Giving up Good Hearing

In this episode we gave up our good hearing. That's right, listen to us talk about how, for two weeks, we couldn't hear very well. Spoiler alert: Ear plugs can be very itchy though fetching.



800 BCE
The first recorded mention of the use of earplugs. Odysseus's crew is warned about the Sirens that sing from an island they will sail past. Circe, their hostess, tells them of the Sirens' bewitching song that makes men drive their boats ashore and perish. She advised Odysseus to fashion earplugs for his men from beeswax so they would not be lured to their deaths by the sirens song.
17th century
Ear Trumpets
First book on using signs to help children.
Juan Pablo Bonet published Reducción de las letras y arte para enseñar a hablar a los mudos (‘Reduction of letters and art for teaching mute people to speak’) in Madrid. It is considered the first modern treaty of phonetics and speech therapy, setting out a method of oral education for deaf children by means of the use of manual signs, in the form of a manual alphabet to improve communication with the deaf.
First school for the deaf
“In 1760, the French priest Charles Michel de L’Eppe, created a free public school for the deaf – the first of its kind. He developed a system that used finger spelling and signs.” (ref)

Volta Bureau
Volta Bureau Washington DC.JPG

Founded by Alexander Graham Bell “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge relating to the deaf”.

Miller Reese Hutchison invented the first electric hearing aid.
Silicone Earplugs
Ray and Cecilia Benner invented the first mouldable pure silicone ear plugs in 1962.
Foam Ear Plugs Developed
Present-day earplug material was discovered in 1967, at National Research Corporation (NRC) in the USA by Ross Gardner Jr. and his team. As part of a project on sealing joints, they developed a resin with energy absorption properties. They came to call this material "E-A-R" (Energy Absorption Resin). In 1972 the material was refined into commercial memory foam earplugs, made from either polyvinyl chloride or polyurethane. (ref).
Apple introduced the Ipod which came with the new style of in-ear headphones. “This puts the audio signal close to your inner year, the equivalent of boosting it by as much as nine decibels. Nine decibels is substantial, when you consider that anything over 85 decibels can cause hearing damage. It's like going from the sound of a dinner bell to the sound of a lawn mower. And, if the ear buds don't make a tight seal, background noise seeps in causing the wearer to raise the volume even more.
Further, newer iPod and MP3 devices have more memory and better battery life, allowing people to listen longer, without interruption. Even moderately high volume can cause hearing loss if listened to for too long. For example, listening to sound at ninety decibels for three hours can be as damaging as hearing something at 155 decibels (like a jet taking off) for thirty seconds.” (ref)
Bluetooth Enabled Hearing Aids
Inventor of Cochlear Implants Dies
Dr. William F. House, Inventor of Pioneering Ear-Implant Device, Dies at 89 (ref) Dr. House did not make any money on the implant. He never sought a patent on any of his inventions, he said, because he did not want to restrict other researchers. 58,000 adults and 38,000 children have received variations on his implant.


  1. Wikipedia entry on Hearing Loss
  2. Hearing Loss Test
  3. Occupational Hearing Loss Chart
  4. Occupational Induced Hearing Loss
  5. History of Hearing Aids
  6. Knowing your disability - the history of deafness
  7. Hearing Conservation in the US: A Historical Context
  8. Occupational Noise Exposure (whistle blower link)
  9. Unilateral Hearing Loss
  10. History of earplugs
  11. Bluetooth introduced in hearing aids
  14. Severe hearing impairment among military veterans--United States, 2010. (2011). MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep, 60(28), 955-958.
  15. Anderson, D. L., & Noble, W. (2005). Couples' attributions about behaviours modulated by hearing impairment: links with relationship satisfaction. Int J Audiol, 44(4), 197-205.
  16. Helfer, T. M., Canham-Chervak, M., Canada, S., & Mitchener, T. A. (2010). Epidemiology of hearing impairment and noise-induced hearing injury among U.S. military personnel, 2003-2005. Am J Prev Med, 38(1 Suppl), S71-77. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.10.025
  17. Hong, O., Chin, D. L., & Ronis, D. L. (2013). Predictors of hearing protection behavior among firefighters in the United States.Int J Behav Med, 20(1), 121-130. doi: 10.1007/s12529-011-9207-0
  18. Masterson, E. A., Tak, S., Themann, C. L., Wall, D. K., Groenewold, M. R., Deddens, J. A., & Calvert, G. M. (2013). Prevalence of hearing loss in the United States by industry. Am J Ind Med, 56(6), 670-681. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22082
  19. Most, T., Ingber, S., & Heled-Ariam, E. (2012). Social competence, sense of loneliness, and speech intelligibility of young children with hearing loss in individual inclusion and group inclusion. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ, 17(2), 259-272. doi: 10.1093/deafed/enr049
  20. Noble, W. (2009). Preventing the psychosocial risks of hearing loss. Aust Fam Physician, 38(8), 591-593.
  21. Rego, M. F., Duarte, I., & Nunes, R. (2015). Hearing impairment and nightmares: a theoretical insight. Springerplus, 4, 786. doi: 10.1186/s40064-015-1579-1
  22. Scarinci, N., Worrall, L., & Hickson, L. (2008). The effect of hearing impairment in older people on the spouse. Int J Audiol, 47(3), 141-151. doi: 10.1080/14992020701689696
  23. Skrbic, R., Milankov, V., Veselinovic, M., & Todorovic, A. (2013). [Impact of hearing impairment on quality of life of adolescents]. Med Pregl, 66(1-2), 32-39.
  24. Smith, J. M. (2012). Toward a better understanding of loneliness in community-dwelling older adults. J Psychol, 146(3), 293-311. doi: 10.1080/00223980.2011.602132
  25. Southall, K., Jennings, M. B., & Gagne, J. P. (2011). Factors that influence disclosure of hearing loss in the workplace. Int J Audiol, 50(10), 699-707. doi: 10.3109/14992027.2011.588963
  26. Theodoroff, S. M., Lewis, M. S., Folmer, R. L., Henry, J. A., & Carlson, K. F. (2015). Hearing impairment and tinnitus: prevalence, risk factors, and outcomes in US service members and veterans deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.Epidemiol Rev, 37, 71-85. doi: 10.1093/epirev/mxu005
  27. Williams, K. C., Falkum, E., & Martinsen, E. W. (2015). Fear of negative evaluation, avoidance and mental distress among hearing-impaired employees. Rehabil Psychol, 60(1), 51-58. doi: 10.1037/rep0000028Xie, Y. H., Potmesil, M., & Peters, B. (2014). Children who are deaf or hard of hearing in inclusive educational settings: a literature review on interactions with peers. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ, 19(4), 423-437. doi: 10.1093/deafed/enu017