On Saturday August 1, 2020, the inaugural Hidden in Heritage Festival will be held. The festival aims to shine light on
what life was like for people living with hidden disabilities in the past, what changes and progress was made across the centuries to improve their quality of life and develop a more inclusive world and how the experience may have been different in different countries.
The festival runs online and will bring to your home international experts and speakers from the worlds of heritage, medical and disability history and the arts.
At 2pm GMT (10am EDT), I will be presenting with Coreen McGuire the history of hearing devices:
Early modern hearing devices were grand feats of mechanical ingenuity. Some were built to be as large as a house; they were hardly practical, or personal objects for aiding hearing. By the nineteenth century, the design shifted and hearing devices were designed to be inconspicuous, concealed in the body or masked as furniture: urns, fans, walking canes, and headbands contained cleverly obscured trumpets. Using examples of historical hearing devices, this talk discusses the socio-cultural context that was driving the concealment features of some of these designs and why, despite the variability of models, only the more expensive objects have survived to this day. How does the perseverance of certain objects end up skewing the story we are telling? Exploring the materiality of our hidden hearing heritage, we also explore the stories of people who used these devices, some of whom wielded their ear trumpets not as objects of stigma or concealment, but rather, as objects of power.
Check out the full program and join us for this virtual celebration of disability history! You can also follow along on social media with the hashtag #HidHeritageFest