Deafness in Disguise

Deafness in Disguise presents images, illustrations, advertising pamphlets, trade catalogs, patents, rare books and other material pertaining to mechanical and electrical hearing devices from the 19th and 20th centuries. Of particular focus in this exhibit are hearing devices that were designed for concealment or camouflage within everyday items.

The Deafness in Disguise exhibit was originally a collaborative project between Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) and the Washington University School of Medicine Bernard Becker Medical Library, incorporating hearing devices, archival material and rare books from their respective collections.


This photograph shows the Rhodes Audiphone in use. The model holds a flexible sheet of vulcanite, adjusted to a convex shape by means of cords, between her teeth. Sound was gathered through the fan area, then traveled via the upper teeth to the inner ear by bone conduction. The cords kept the fan under tension, providing for better vibration. The sound device on the model’s lap is a folding “Dentaphone,” a similar bone conduction hearing device.


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