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“Problem Child? Or Hearing Problem Child?” A History of Audiometric Screening and Pediatric Audiometry in Public Health
Monday July 12, 2021
1:00-2:30pm EST (virtual)
Educational Audiology Association Conference, Keynote Presentation
In the 1920s, American school children were enlisted for screenings on the range of hearing acuity. The data compiled from these studies would be crucial for improving the technical specifications of audiometers and define useful parameters for the audiogram. More significantly, the data standardized public health protocols for regular screenings and shaped the role of the public health nurse within the early history of pediatric audiology. As departments of public health collaborated with school districts, audiometric screenings were framed as more than a marker of a child’s “hearing health:” they defined the relationship between hearing and a child’s academic success and specialist reports argued that ill-tempered children with poor hearing acuity could be remediable with a hearing aid and regular audiometric screening.
This presentation contributes a new perspective on the history of audiometric screening and pediatric audiometry through the interplay of cultural, scientific, and technological changes of aurality in the early twentieth century.