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History

The Legacy of Hearing Rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins

The Hearing and Listening Centers at Johns Hopkins carry on traditions of innovation in hearing care. For decades, Hopkins clinicians have used clinical strategies and technologies to enable those with hearing loss to gain access to voiced and environmental sound.

Johns Hopkins established a legacy of leadership in hearing research in the early 20th century when Dr. Stacy Guild developed one of the foremost laboratories dedicated to the study of causes of hearing loss. This investigative work was later continued by Dr. George Nager who applied modern microscopy to uncover the cellular basis for many forms of acquired and progressive hearing impairment.

A Leading Institution in Hearing Health

Hopkins became the first to fit hearing aids to patients with advanced levels of hearing loss shortly after World War II—a time when the use of miniaturized, electronic circuits in hearing aids first emerged. Armed with the technology to amplify the sounds of speech with ear-level devices, Hopkins clinicians employed a multidisciplinary approach to early onset hearing loss.

Under the departmental direction of Dr. John Bordley in the 1940’s and 1950’s, Dr. William Hardy worked with a remarkable group of professionals—Dr. Janet Hardy, Dr. Miriam Hardy, Dr. Hiroshi Shimizu, and Ms. Harriet Haskins—in developing a novel approach to hearing impairment. These clinical scientists merged the energy and insights of the hearing and speech sciences and electrical engineering. Their pioneering work enabled patients to produce more adequate speech as a reflection of their enhanced hearing of both their own speech and that of others.

Newborn Hearing Testing First Proposed at Hopkins

Dr. Shimizu first proposed that newborn babies could have their hearing tested using an emerging diagnostic technology—the auditory brainstem response. In 1969, the many and varied influences that affected the communication development of children was published in a groundbreaking book edited by Dr. William Hardy, "Communication and the Disadvantaged Child." For the first time, this seminal work documented the relationship between hearing technologies, both diagnostic and rehabilitative, socialization and communication outcomes. This work emphasized that hearing rehabilitation should gather the considerable power to be found in involving a patient’s family in the process of learning to communicate more effectively.

Multidisciplinary Hearing Rehabilitation

In the 1990’s a renewed effort combined the modern tools of hearing rehabilitation in combination with Hopkins model of multidisciplinary care. The Listening Center at Johns Hopkins merged cochlear implant technology with advanced audiologic, educational and surgical techniques, thus powering the use of electrical hearing to be taken to its fullest potential. Hopkins Hearing, launched in 2004, merges advances in hearing aids, both those placed on or in the ear and those implanted in the ear, to attain more sensitive hearing with higher quality of transmitted sound. A key feature of the The Hearing Center’s approach is to educate our patients in effective use of their hearing technology. Importantly, both the Listening and Hearing Centers at Johns Hopkins have sought to define the impact of the modern tools of hearing rehabilitation.

Today Hopkins programs of hearing rehabilitation attempt to confront the immense challenges posed by hearing loss as a partnership. We believe that partnership needs to involve industry, government, insurers as well you, our patients, and us, as your clinicians. Our experience has taught us that only through such a partnership is it possible to reliably meet the challenges of hearing loss in gaining practical, meaningful access to the world of sound.

In the 1990’s a renewed effort combined the modern tools of hearing rehabilitation in combination with Hopkins model of multidisciplinary care.  The Listening Center at Johns Hopkins merged cochlear implant technology with advanced audiologic, educational and surgical techniques, thus powering the use of electrical hearing to be taken to its fullest potential.  The Hearing Center at Johns Hopkins launched in 2004  merges advances in hearing aids, both those placed on or in the ear and those implanted in the ear, to attain more sensitive hearing with higher quality of transmitted sound.   A key feature of the The Hearing Center’s approach is to educate our patients in effective use of their hearing technology.  Importantly, both the Listening and Hearing Centers at Johns Hopkins have sought to define the impact of the modern tools of hearing rehabilitation.

Historical Image Gallery

Dr. John Bordley headshot

Dr. John Bordley


The Johns Hopkins Magazine Cover from 1950

The Johns Hopkins Magazine Cover, October 1950


Dr. Miriam Hardy and her patient

Dr. Miriam Hardy and her patient


Dr. Hiroshi Shimizu headshot

Dr. Hiroshi Shimizu


Dr. William Hardy headshot

Dr. William Hardy