Akouphones & Sign Language
…An early electric hearing aid to the rest of us, has been the focus of today’s research. Invented by Miller Reece Hutchinson in 1898, it used carbon transmitters to convert a weak electrical signal. It was bulky by all accounts – needing to be housed on a table – and thus cumbersome to transport. It didn’t sell well in America, but undeterred; Hutchinson moved to Europe where Princess Alexandra of Denmark (wife to the future King Edward VII) became a fan and helped promote Hutchinson’s invention.
Her interest stemmed from her own deafness – possibly inherited from the maternal side – and caused by osteosclerosis in her ear. She was so enamoured of Hutchinson’s work that he was even invited to her coronation in 1902. For further information on the akouphone follow this link.
To learn more about Alexandra – follow this one.
From there it was a quick hop into sign language research, and to the discovery of the Gallaudet College – now the Gallaudet University in Washington.
How I shall use all this new knowledge, only time will tell. But it has certainly helped me develop Peter Welney’s character further and create tensions between him and Brigadier Nichols.
The feature image is of an acousticon – which was the improved akouphone. (From: Evan Yellon, Surdus in search of his hearing (1906)) For technical information on the Akouphone – here’s another link.