Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 38

Audiphone in New York

page 18

Audiphone in New York.

From the New York World.

The Deaf Made to Hear—Singular and Touching Results Attained by a Simple Little Invention.

There has been a great deal of fun made over attempts to make the deaf people hear, and the wonderful Edison with his megaphone has done not a little to encourage the general amusement, but a man deafer than Edison has shown that people born deaf or made deaf by disease can actually be made to hear to a greater or less extent, and so can be freed from many of the inconveniences formerly inseparable from their condition.

This fact was shown yesterday at the Audiphone parlors, No. 41 East Twenty-Second Street, where the Audiphone was exhibited by Mr. Richard S. Rhodes, of Chicago. Dr. George M. Beard, the well-known electrician, in introducing Mr. Rhodes said he had not thoroughly examined the instrument but believed it would prove more serviceable to those who were almost completely deaf than to those who were partially deaf, providing that the auditory nerve was not destroyed. While Dr. Beard was speaking Mr. Rhodes sat listening to him with an Audiphone against the teeth of his upper jaw, and when Dr. Beard had finished Mr. Rhodes rose, and in the high-pitched voice common to deaf people, said Dr. Beard had stated the case exactly. He himself had been deaf for twenty years, and had tried every form of ear trumpet without benefit. He had fallen into the habit of placing his watch between his teeth and listening to its ticking, and one day it suddenly occurred to him that he could hear articulate language in the same manner. He page break
Experiments with the Audiphone on a Class of Deaf Mutes in New York City, Nov. 21, 1879. (From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Paper.)

Experiments with the Audiphone on a Class of Deaf Mutes in New York City, Nov. 21, 1879. (From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Paper.)

page break page 21 then began experiments to find a proper medium for conducting sounds to the ear through the teeth, and after two years perfected the Audiphone, which he has since used. Mr. Rhodes then exhibited the Audiphone and explained the manner of its use.

The interesting part of the exhibition was the introduction of a class of deaf mutes from the Washington Heights Asylum. This class included two young ladies, a young girl, two young men and two boys.

One of the two young ladies adjusted the Audiphone with feminine intuition, and as she had been deaf since the age of two years, Mr. Rhodes attempted with her the experience between two sounds. He pronounced the letters "A" and "O," at the same time making the corresponding deaf mute signs, and after a moment he blind-folded the young lady. Then he pronounced the same letters, varying their order, and each time the young lady raised her finger and made the deaf mute sign of the letter which had been spoken to her. Then chords were played on a piano and on an organ while the young lady held the Audiphone in her mouth, and it was shown that she could hear the sounds perfectly.

The experiment with the other young lady of the class was very touching. She had been born deaf, and she showed the greatest eagerness when she was given an Audiphone and promised that she should hear. The experiments made with the other young lady of the class were repeated successfully with her, and she was then asked if she had ever heard her own voice. She answered in the negative, and she was instructed by means of signs and by placing her hand on Mr. Rhodes' throat so as to feel the vibrations of the vocal chords how to produce sound. Then she was given a double Andiphone—one in which there are two discs between which the voice is thrown—and she page 22 endeavored to make a sound. At first she was unsuccessful, but on the second attempt she made a long, wailing sound which was in strange contrast with the brightness of her face. Her face flushed as she sank into her seat and pulled her veil over her face. The instructor asked her if she had heard her voice, and she answered that she had. She could describe the effect it had upon her only by saying it was "a curious sensation."

Another interesting case was that of a young man who lost his hearing at the age of two years, and who had lost both of his arms by being run over by a railroad car. In spite of his deformity he was able to make himself understood by peculiar movements of the stumps of his arms, and one of the deaf mute young ladies held an Audiphone against his teeth while experiments were made with him. Like the others, the young man was able to hear spoken words and music by means of the Audiphone, although everything was simply a "rumble" to him as to the others. An ingenious test of the relative—and so to speak articulate—powers of hearing of the class was made by Miss Belle Cole, who sang an echo song in which the tones run from very soft to very loud. The deaf mutes were instructed to raise or lower their hands as the sound was more or less intense to them, and it was interesting to watch them as they stood grouped around the piano, upright and rigid, waiting to catch the sound. Then as Miss Cole sang the hands raised and fell, now slowly, now quickly, until when Miss Cole struck a high note the hand of the young lady who had never before heard her voice shot far above her head.

After this song the audience sang, "Nearer, My God, to Thee," and the deaf mutes, who presented a curious sight as they stood facing the people with the Audiphones in their mouths, seemed to enjoy the singing heartily.

page 23

New York Correspondence.

Wonders of the Audiphone.

Interesting Experiments in New York—The Deaf Made to Hear—Sensations of a Young Lady Who Heard Her Voice for the First Time.

New York, November 26.—An interesting exhibition of the Audiphone was given in this city last Friday afternoon, under the auspices of the inventor, Mr. Richard S. Rhodes, of Chicago, in the handsome parlors rented by Caswell & Hazard, who have taken the agency for this country.

The audience was a very stylish one, and beside a number of society people, who are scientific to a fashionable extent, included a number of notabilities, the most interesting of whom was the honored old man, Peter Cooper, who entered the room with the inevitable air-cushion in hand, and installed in a large easy chair, with a number of charming young women hovering about, anxious to contribute to his comfort, sat seeming unconcerned of the attention he attracted.

Never was there a man upon whose face and bearing, riches and power had left so little impress. With his kindly benevolent face, wrinkled with age, stamped with thought, and framed in white hair, long and a little wavy; his gentle, considerate manners and quiet thankfulness, not pride in his green old age, make an impression on the mind not easily, effaced. As he came through the door he was met by Henry Bergh, whose giant height and strong, resolute face, render him conspicuous anywhere.

The friends of mankind and animal kind shook hands and beamed at each other. They met on ground of mutual admiration, and both alike devote their time and their wealth to doing the work that seems to them most needed.

page 24

Dr. George M. Beard, the scientist, keen-eyed, keen-eared, keen-nosed, was there, ready to detect fault or flaw at a second's notice; Frank B. Carpenter, the artist, who, since the Beecher trial, has been called "the man with the dark, mysterious eyes," sat looking on with interest, and next to him was seated the father of the inventor, George A. Rhodes, a pleasant-faced old gentleman, who told me that he had just been visiting his live sisters, all old ladies, and living in Rhode Island.

Mr. Rhodes was introduced by Dr. Beard in a few well-chosen remarks, and he then gave a brief history of the invention, the years and thought he had given it, the experiments made with different woods, metals, and compositions, before he hit upon the carbonized rubber, which, cut in the shape of a Japanese fan and regulated by cords, is the wonderful instrument that makes the deaf hear, the dumb speak, and an exhibition of it a foretaste of the day of judgment.

Mr. Rhodes added that the principle of the invention was suggested to him by noticing the distinctness with which he could hear a watch held between his teeth tick, when applying it to his ear he heard nothing.

At the conclusion of his remarks the scholars of the Deaf and Dumb Institute were led out and the invention was more severely tested than it had ever been before.

One sweet-faced girl of sixteen, born deaf and dumb, was brought forward, and the instrument adjusted between two rows of as pearly teeth as can be found. Mr. Rhodes then called out, "A." Instantly a strange look—half fear, half delight—appeared on the girl's countenance, and, in response to a question, she answered with her nimble fingers that she heard, but did not know what, being unable to connect the sound with her figures of speech. This was explained, and the inventor called B. Again she assented; C, the same, and after being told once she really distin- page 25 guished the letters, even blindfolded. She was then requested to articulate, that she might hear the sound of her own voice, which had never fallen upon her ear. At first she refused, saying, in her own language, she was afraid, not knowing what noise might come. Being gently encouraged, but with cheeks burning red with excitement, she at last opened her mouth, and the most pathetic wail, like of a soul in anguish, burst from her lips. Several of the audience were so affected that tears fell from their eyes; as to the girl, she turned white and shivered, saying, with her little hands:

"Was that really I? Tell me the truth; did I make that strange noise?"

When assured that she did, and could learn to speak like others, her joy was extreme.

Mr. Rhodes was warmly congratulated by the company, and Mr. Cooper spoke of his invention as a blessing and a godsend to the afflicted. Before dispersing refreshments were served, and, highly gratified with the exhibition, the audience dispersed. * * *


In the St. Joseph's Institute

"St. Joseph's

Institute, "Fordham (near New York City), Dec. 4, 1879.

"On Tuesday, the 2d inst., the Audiphone was tested by a number of pupils of the institute with the following results:

"Cecilia Lynch, aged sixteen, is supposed to have been deaf from birth. It has, however, been remarked that she could hear very loud sounds and could sometimes distinguish her own name if spoken in a loud tone by a person quite close to her. She says also that she sometimes hears the strains of the organ in the chapel, but so far from deriving any pleasure from the music the confused sounds are page 26 very disagreeable to her. By the use of the Audiphone she not only heard distinctly but could repeat almost every word spoken to her. As she has been instructed in articulation and reads easily from the lips it was thought that this knowledge assisted her. One of the persons present then stood behind her and repeated several words, which she readily imitated, thus proving, beyond a doubt, the value of the Audiphone.

"Annie Toohey, aged ten years, became deaf at the age of three from spinal meningitis. It was supposed that her hearing was completely destroyed, but on applying the Audiphone to her teeth she heard and distinctly repeated after Mr. Rhodes several of the letters of the alphabet. This little girl has begun to make considerable progress in articulation, but up to the day on which she tried the Audiphone the vowel E appeared to be an insurmountable difficulty to her; by the aid of the Audiphone she repeated it with perfect distinctness.

"Another little girl, Sarah Flemming, also heard the voice of Mr. Rhodes and others who spoke to her. As in the preceding case, her deafness was caused by spinal meningitis, by which she was attacked when five years of age. By the aid of the Audiphone she was able to repeat several sounds. Several others tested the Audiphone with more or less success.

"Mart B. Morgan, Principal."

In a later letter (December 12) Miss Morgan states: "No doubt the Audiphone will be of great service to our pupils."

Still Later.—We are using them (the Audiphones) in the class-room, and have good reason to hope that they will be a great success. On Monday, which was the first day that we used them, one child heard and understood almost every word spoken during the school exercises. Thanking you most sincerely for your kindness, I am respectfully yours,

M. B. Morgan.