Presidential Hearing Aids
Did you that Ronald Reagan was the first President to wear hearing aids while he was in office? He was 72 years old and was fit with a device that was considered “barely visible”. According to the famous article from the New York Times in September of 1983, President Reagan started losing his hearing after a pistol was fired in close proximity to his right ear. The change in technology and size is what prompted the President’s decision to wear hearing aids and the public announcement. Prior to this, reporters had to speak loudly during interviews, particularly if they were on his right side. Thanks to President Reagan, there was a decrease in the negative stigma towards hearing aids.
President H.W. Bush also was an advocate for those with hearing loss. In 1990, President Bush passed the American Disabilities Act which helped provide assistive listening options in patrons in public venues. Although, he did not wear hearing aids during his presidency, he did after he served.
The second sitting President to be fit with hearing aids was Bill Clinton. He was much younger than President Reagan at age 51. Because he was much younger, he encouraged others in his generation to get their hearing tested. He also shed light on the effects of noise induced hearing loss as he was an avid saxophone player. In 2013, he and his daughter Chelsea volunteered with the Starkey Hearing Foundation in Africa, where nearly 400 people were provided with hearing aids.