History of Audiology
The profession of audiology had its origins in the 1920’s when audiometers were first designed for measuring hearing.
Interest in this profession surged in the 1940’s when soldiers returned from World War II with noise induced hearing loss due to near-by gunfire or to prolonged and unprotected exposure to machinery noise. Others had psychogenic (non-organic) hearing loss as a result of severe emotional and mental stress. The Veterans Administration took a lead role in providing hearing testing and rehabilitation through hearing aids, auditory training, and speechreading (lipreading) programs.
Since the 1940’s and 1950’s, the study of hearing, hearing loss, and audiologic rehabilitation has escalated and expanded.
- New tests of hearing have been developed including evaluations of functions of the outer ear, middle ear, cochlea, acoustic nerve, and related brain areas.
- Techniques using physiologic measurements that were in the research stages 20-30 years ago are now routine.
- Modern technology and computerization have dramatically influenced hearing aids. Hearing aids have changed from "boxes" in shirt pockets and "cords" to the ear to highly sophisticated "completely-in-the-ear canal" aids. Virtually any kind of hearing loss can be improved by a hearing aid.
- Cochlear implants are increasingly common and successful.
Today, audiologists and the practice of audiology have widespread visibility. Audiology has a presence in public schools, health care centers, private practices, nursing homes, community agencies, the military, hospitals, colleges and universities, hearing aid dispensing centers, hearing and speech centers. They test hearing and listening ability; they fit hearing aids and assistive listening devices; they provide training and rehabilitation programs for individuals with hearing and listening disorders; they participate on health care and educational teams to plan and provide the most appropriate services.
Information about the audiology profession was obtained from the American
Academy of Audiology website: www.audiology.org.
Center on Human Development and Disability,
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