MAY 9, 1950
NEW YORK, Monday—This is National Hearing Week, and during these few days we shall hear a great deal about this whole question of impaired hearing. According to the Hearing Foundation, one out of ten persons in the United States has impaired hearing.
We read a great deal about those who suffer from heart disease, cancer and polio. Yet, there are three times as many people who are handicapped by impaired hearing than those who suffer from all these diseases combined. Everyone of us should keep a watchful eye on our children so far as their hearing is concerned. There are now three million youngsters who are hard of hearing in this country. One million of them require special training, hearing aids and lip reading to get through school, but if the rest of them get medical attention in time many of them will be saved from permanent hearing loss.
Children often get impaired hearing after the diseases that normally attack children, so it would be well to check their hearing after each illness. Also, there are many industries that cause deafness. And if grownups would realize this they should wear ear protectors, which would help them considerably.
It is actually very costly not to detect hearing impairments in children. It often causes apparent dullness, and it was ascertained a little while ago that in one city with a population of 324,000, children with hearing defects were repeating their grades four times as often as normal-hearing children in the same school. The cost per capita for each child in the school was $117, so these extra repetitions in the grade were costly to the taxpayers.
An unusual award was given last week to America's elder statesman, Bernard M. Baruch. This award was made not because he had discovered any new hearing device, but because of his leadership in encouraging the hard of hearing to use aids and seek hearing problem advice. He wears his aid with distinction, and it certainly makes a difference not only to himself but to his family and friends. That could be true of anyone who is deaf.
I would have to wear a hearing aid in my work at the United Nations if we didn't have earphones, which magnify the sound as well as permit us to hear the translations. Each one of us has a little microphone in front of us and we talk into it. The minute anyone forgets and does not talk into the microphone I am completely lost, for I hear nothing.
I will acknowledge that for a woman a hearing aid is a little more trouble to carry about than it is for a man, and for that reason and since I still have a fair amount of hearing in one ear I do not wear my hearing aid much of the time. But hearing aids are being improved and I am sure there will come a day when all you will have to do is to put something in your ears and you won't have to be bothered with carrying batteries. That may be a little too optimistic. But when the day comes when I can't hear people around me I certainly will not make my family shout at me. I will wear a hearing aid no matter what inconvenience I may find in carrying the extra paraphernalia. Perhaps I shall devise some way of having the same number of pockets conveniently placed that a man now has in his clothes.