Deafness in Disguise Washington University School of Medicine Becker Medical Library

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Concealed Hearing Devices of the 20th Century

In the 1950s, many men and women would not dream of leaving the house without being smartly attired with several items of ornamental jewelry. In this era, hearing aid earpieces were often disguised as earrings, microphones made to resemble brooches or tie clips, and cords concealed within women's necklaces.

SonoCharm model, ca. 1950
Better Living Magazine cover, July 1950

Courtesy of Sonotone


Courtesy of Sonotone

SonoCharms advertisement

Courtesy of Sonotone


Decorative insignia pins for women, as seen in these advertisements for “SonoCharms,” concealed hearing aid microphones.



SonoCharms advertisement

Courtesy of Sonotone

SonoCharms, used to conceal hearing aid microphones Models wearing SonoCharms

Courtesy of Sonotone

Sonotone Fashion Accessories
Manufacturers were well aware of how concerned their users were with concealing their hearing aids. Sonotone and others published brochures directed at both men and women, recommending fashion tips and describing in detail how to wear and conceal aids. These pages from Sonotone’s 1950 brochure “Fashion: Your Passport to Poise” showcase “SonoCharms,” the versatile costume jewelry used to hide a hearing aid microphone.

All is Vanity

He wears a hat with a hard tight rim,
But a hearing aid headband? Not for him!
Her earrings pinch and they're as big as dollars,
But a tiny ear piece? “No!” She hollers.
His pockets bulge with a horrid litter,
He hasn't room for a small transmitter.
She squints and scowls with the strain she brooks,
But she's sure that an aid would “spoil her looks.”
Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.
And vain is aid for vain humanity.

Gene Ellinger, 1949

Women wearing jewelry concealing hearing devices

Courtesy of Sonotone

“Smartly worn” hearing aids and devices with cosmetic appeal were marketed during the mid 20th century. Manufacturers claimed that their devices were virtually unnoticeable, discreet, or invisible and that “no one will know you are deaf.” Hearing devices were becoming smaller, their batteries were smaller and lasted longer, and their power was increasing.

Sonotone advertisement for disguised hearing aids

Courtesy of Sonotone

Keep Your Secret
Paravox literature about concealing a hearing device
Belton Electronics advertisement

Courtesy of Beltone Electronics Corporation

Telex Communications promotional literature about concealed hearing aid

Courtesy of Telex Communications, Inc.

Hal-Hen Simulated Pearl Necklace Hearing Cord
Hal-Hen Simulated Pearl Necklace Hearing Cord
The Hal-Hen pearl hearing aid necklace as modeled by the creator’s wife, was designed to camouflage the hearing aid cord.

© Hal-Hen Company, Inc.

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