A Brief History of Audiology

Welcome back to the Albuquerque Speech Language Hearing Center blog. We like to cover a wide range of topics of interest in relation to Speech, Language, and Hearing, whether they be the value of ASHA certifications or more lighthearted subjects. This month we wanted to lean on the education side of things and give a brief history of audiology and speech-language pathology. This entry will focus on audiology.

Audiology is the study of hearing and its related disorders. The professionals in this field are called audiologists, all who treat and prevent those disorders. The history of the term audiology and audiologists only dates back to 1946, contemporary with the first US university course for audiologists. The practice developed along with hearing aids as a treatment for the soldiers who suffered hearing loss in WWII.

SIDE NOTE: The oldest type of hearing aid is the ear trumpet which was used as early as the 17th century.

As the practice developed, audiologists, who typically held master’s degrees until the 1990s, transitioned to a minimum education of a doctoral level.

Audiologists use many testing techniques all to determine whether a person can hear in the normal range or, if not, which parts of hearing are affected. In addition to the diagnosis of hearing problems, audiologists develop methods of treatments, hearing aid implementations. The branch of science has a very wide field of related practices such as electrophysiology, acoustics, psycophysics, vestibular function, neurology, balance disorders, and of course counseling and sign language.

As time goes on, causes are better understood, and as environmental factors change, audiology will only continue to grow and develop, just as the field really blossomed following the need of WWII veterans. Again this has been a brief history of the field of audiology. Next time on the blog we’ll look at the Speech-Language portion of our practice.