19 Feb Presidents with Hearing Loss
Did you know many US Presidents have experienced hearing loss? Going all the way back, George Washington reported difficulty hearing in 1789 and then Thomas Jefferson in 1819. Though hearing aids were not available at the time, these early Presidents may have used amplification such as the ear trumpet. There have been many others Presidents along the way too, including Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover. It wasn’t until much later that a sitting US President publicly announced that he would be fit with hearing aids.
In recognition of the Presidents Day, here are a list of Presidents affected by hearing loss:
Ronald Reagan: He was the first president to wear hearing aids in the White House. His hearing loss began in the 1930s due to a gun being fired too close to his right ear while he was acting. His willingness to have his hearing aids fit publicly, significantly reduced the negative association hearing aids had in society, casting their use in a positive light.
Bill Clinton: Due to years of music exposure and presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), he was fitted for hearing aids during his second term as president in 1997. He continues to promote the positive aspects of hearing aids.
Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson documented his hearing difficulties, showing how they affected his everyday activities. In 1819 he wrote in a letter to physician Vine Utley, “My hearing is distinct in particular conversation, but confused when several voices cross each other, which unfits me for the society of the table.”
Theodore Roosevelt: After leaving office and about a year before his death, Roosevelt lost hearing in his right ear due to a procedure to remove an abscess.
George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter:
All of these presidents were fitted for hearing aids post-presidency, allowing them to live confidently and continue to have an impact on US policies.
Additional Presidents with a Connection to Hearing Loss:
Abraham Lincoln helped establish Gallaudet, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing, as a collegiate institution by signing a bill into law in 1894. All of the graduates’ diplomas to this day get signed by the current president.
James Garfield gave his last speech at Gallaudet University (then-College) before being assassinated. He succeeded in deflecting opposition by numerous congressional members who viewed the institution as a “white elephant”.
More recently, George H.W. Bush signed the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act into law, which prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities, including hearing loss, in situations like employment or public service.
Hearing loss is more common than you think.
Currently, hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the US, affecting nearly 50 million Americans. With many increased risks related to hearing loss – such as dementia, falls, and hospitalizations – it is essential for people who are experiencing changes in their hearing to schedule a hearing test. Let our former Presidents be an inspiration: hearing aids are brilliant devices that give us command over our lives.
Inspired to get your hearing tested? As these Presidents attest, healthy hearing promotes a healthy life. Contact us today! Or call us (502) 642-4322.