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Medresco portable hearing aid, England, 1953

The Medical Research Council designed this early example of a portable hearing aid. It consists of an internal ear piece, large Ministry of Health-issue batteries and a microphone. It comes in a leather carrying pouch. The hearing aid ensemble is bulky by today’s standards. Since the late 1970s, some people who are deaf can hear with the aid of small, discreet cochlear implants. These hearing aids are powered by tiny lithium batteries the size of a watch battery. Some people in the deaf community argue cochlear implants ‘normalise’ people with hearing loss. This example was made by Remploy Limited.

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Glossary: deafness

A condition where the hearing in both ears in not functional to ordinary levels.

Glossary: hearing aid

A small electronic apparatus that amplifies sound and is worn in or behind the ear to compensate for impaired hearing.