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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 38

Audiphone in Philadelphia

page 27

Audiphone in Philadelphia

From the Philadelphia Times.

Making the Deaf Hear—Asylum Mutes Testing A Machine—Those Deaf from Birth and Those Whose Hearing Has Long Been Dead Enabled to Hear Their Own Voices Once More—A Veteran Editor's Wager.

The experiment of making the deaf to hear and the mute to speak was tried yesterday in the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb by Mr. R. S. Rhodes, of Chicago, who, having long experienced the privation of infirm auditory organs, invented a carbon disc, the testing of which as a conductor of sound was the object of yesterday's trial. Those who came to see how the new invention would work were welcomed by the superintendent, and accommodated with chairs in the ample parlors of the institution.

Among those present were E. Mortimer Lewis, David P. Brown and George P. Kimball. Not a few of the interested auditors were enabled to follow the proceedings by means of Audiphones, and all such cheerfully added their testimony to the great amelioration of what was in some cases almost total deafness of many years' standing. The apparatus for the experiments consisted of a grand piano and several Audiphones.

Mr. Rhodes, the inventor, remarked introductorily that only those whose auditory nerve was not wholly dead could be benefited. Very few, however, even of those born deaf, are totally without sense of sound, hence nearly all of those educated in the asylums may be taught to speak, inasmuch as their dumbness is owing solely to their want of use of the organs of speech.

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A Deaf Girl Hears.

Miss Ida Brook was first experimented with. The superintendent said she could hear very loud sounds in favorable weather without mechanical assistance. Mr. Rhodes, standing where his lips could not be seen, spoke at the top of his voice twice, but Miss Brook did not betray the faintest sign of having heard. An Audiphone was adjusted for her, and similar sounds were heard by her, as her pleased ex-pression showed. She also heard single notes sounded on the piano up to ten feet distance, beyond which she seemed not to hear. Practiced on A and O she heard well enough to repeat them with reasonable accuracy, much of her facility having doubtless resulted from her cleverness of interpreting the movement of the lips. Mr. Rhodes covered his own face with an Audiphone, and Miss Brook was still able to repeat the sounds, and make the appropriate mute letter signs at the same time.

To illustrate the necessity of long practice to enable even those who hear to speak, Ellen McClurg was next called up. She is about 10 years old, and born of deaf mute parents. She never until lately heard any spoken words. She understood English no better than if she had been Chinese. Words she repeated accurately, but without any sign of understanding their significance. She was intelligent enough in the mute signs.

Mayor Medill's Bet.

The great editor of the West—Medill, of The Chicago Tribune—was deaf. He made two promises, viz.: One to his wife, that he would attend church; the other that he would pay a thousand dollars to any ingenious individual that would let him drop his speaking trumpet. Since then Edison and all the inventors have been "going for Medill." It was at the convention of the Western Associated Press, held a few weeks ago, that Medill lost. Rhodes, who struck page 29 the idea, told him that he hadn't yet got all the patents. So Medill (who looks all the world like Ex-House of Correction Manager Thomas A. Barlow, with a speaking trumpet at his ear) went to the last convention keeping "mum;" and while the youngsters of the newspaper business, like Henry Watterson, James B. McCullagh, of the Globe-Demotrrat, and Murat Halstead and Wash. B. McLean, were trying to arrange their situation of affairs, Medill was quietly holding a fan-like arrangement in his mouth, between his teeth, and when he got tired of holding it that way gave it to the fellows around him to fan themselves with. In the meantime Medill heard everything, and it is reported did great execution in freeing the newspaper press by the first of the year from telegraph monopoly—just by this Japanese fan. And the worst of it is, it is said Medill has to fulfill the second consideration that he promised his wife—that is, to go to church.

From the Philadelphia Record.

The Deaf Hear—Experiments at the Deaf and Dumb Asylum—Deaf People Hear the Sound of Their Own Voices for the First Time in Many Years.

In the parlors of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum was yesterday demonstrated the Audiphone, by which the deaf can hear. It is the invention of Mr. R. S. Rhodes, a man who is accounted "hard of hearing." Before experimenting, he explained that the Audiphone was used by placing the instrument against the upper teeth when addressed. He said that where the physical conditions of the persons using the Audiphone are the same the results are the same. Any person having the use of the auditory nerve is enabled to hear through the instrument, but those who have lost the power of this nerve through disease or sickness could not be made to hear.

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While Mr. Rhodes was speaking Mr. Curly, of the institution was explaining his words by tìnger signs to some dozen of the inmates of the aslyum who had been brought into the parlor.

Mr. Rhodes also read a letter from the principal of St. Joseph's Institute, at Fordham, in which the results of some experiments were given. It read that out of thirty inmates experimented upon, five, who were entirely deaf, could hear with the Audiphone, sixteen, who could slightly hear the sound of an organ, could hear distinctly, and nine, who barely discerned the sound of the voice, could hear perfectly.

G. B. Gimball explained that his sister, who had been very deaf for a long time, was enabled to hear through the Audiphone quite well. Last Sunday she visited church, and for the first time in seven years, was able to hear and appreciate the sermon.

Ida Brooks, a child of the institution, who had been deaf since birth, was then experimented upon. The Audiphone, which is a fan-shaped instrument, slightly curved by means of a string while in use, was placed against her upper teeth and she then heard a note of the piano at a distance of twelve feet. She was also able to repeat the sounds of letters after Mr. Rhodes. The double telephone was then placed between her teeth, and with it she was able to hear her own voice plainly.

Catherine Lewis, a young lady, also an inmate of the asylum, ordinarily was able to hear a very loud voice. With the Audiphone she could hear and repeat words uttered in a conversational key.

Samuel Davidson a young man of seventeen years, who had been deaf for over ten years, was the next object of attention. He had lost his hearing from disease, and was able only to hear a noise, but could not distinguish the difference in sound. The young man was handed a book to read, in page 31 which Mr. Rhodes read the same passage aloud. With the aid of the instrument the young man was able to follow the reading, and to distinguish each word.

Julia Fooley, a young lady who had the use of her voice, but who could not hear any sound, was the last one to try the instrument. Miss Fooley is an expert reader from the motion of the lips, and readily understood enough of questions to answer that she lost her hearing from brain fever eight years ago. Since that time she had never heard a sound, not even of her own voice. The Audiphone was placed in position in her mouth, and she distinctly heard a note struck upon the piano. With the use of the double instrument she read a few sentences from a book, and was able to distinguish what she said. In explanation the young lady said, while her eyes sparkled with pleasure: "I can hear myself, but it is inconvenient to speak with this in my mouth."

In order to test the power of the Audiphone thoroughly, Miss Fooley was requested to raise and lower her hand according to the high or low note struck on the piano. As she had had no training upon the piano before her sickness she could not distinguish a high key from a low one. But she lowered and raised her hand according to the volume of sound.