A Short Biography of Raymond Carhart, the “Father of Audiology”

Raymond Carhart

Most people are surprised to see how young the field of audiology actually is, and just how recently its founding father founded the profession. To put this in perspective, if you wanted to find the founding father of biology, for example, you’d have to go back in time by 2,300 years and read through the The History of Animals, a natural history text penned in the fourth century BCE by the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.

In contrast, to find the founding father of audiology, we need go back only 70 years, to 1945 when Raymond Carhart popularized the word. But who was Raymond Carhart, and how did he come to create a separate scientific field so recently? The story starts with World War II.

World War II and Hearing Loss

One of history’s greatest lessons shows us that necessity is the mother of invention, signifying that difficult circumstances prompt inventions aimed at reducing the difficulty. Such was the case for audiology, as hearing loss was turning out to be a larger public health concern both during and after World War II.

Indeed, the primary driving force behind the progression of audiology was World War II, which lead to military personnel returning from battle with extreme hearing impairment caused by exposure to loud sounds. While many speech pathologists had been calling for better hearing assessment and treatment all along, the number of people suffering from hearing loss from World War II made the request impossible to ignore.

Among those calling for a new profession, Robert West, a prominent speech pathologist, called for the expansion of the speech pathology field to include the correction of hearing in 1936 — the same year that Raymond Carhart would graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Speech Pathology, Experimental Phonetics and Psychology.

Raymond Carhart Establishes the New Science of Hearing

Raymond Carhart himself started out his career in speech pathology. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Psychology from Dakota Wesleyan University in 1932 and his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Speech Pathology, Experimental Phonetics and Psychology at Northwestern University in 1934 and 1936. Carhart was in fact one of the department’s first two PhD graduates.

Soon after graduation, Carhart became an instructor in Speech Re-education from 1936 to 1940. Then, in 1940 he was promoted to Assistant Professor and in 1943 to Associate Professor. It was what took place next, however, that may have altered the course of history for audiology.

In 1944, Carhart was commissioned a captain in the Army to head the Deshon General Hospital aural rehab program for war-deafened military personnel in Butler, Pennsylvania. It was here that Carhart, in the context of serving more than 16,000 hearing-impaired military personnel, made popular the term audiology, assigning it as the science of hearing. From that point forward, audiology would separate from speech pathology as its own distinctive research specialization.

At the conclusion of the war, Carhart would go back to Northwestern University to develop the country’s first academic program in audiology. As a skillful professor, he guided 45 doctoral students to the completion of their work, students who would themselves become respected teachers, researchers, and clinical specialists across the country. And as a researcher, among countless contributions, Carhart developed and refined speech audiometry, specifically as it applied to determining the efficiency of hearing aid performance. He even identified a unique pattern on the audiogram that reveals otosclerosis (hardening of the middle ear bones), eponymously named the “Carhart notch.”

Raymond Carhart’s Place in History

Of history’s founding fathers, the name Raymond Carhart may not be as familiar as Aristotle, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, or Charles Darwin. But if you wear hearing aids, and you know the degree to which the quality of life is elevated as the result, you might place Raymond Carhart on the same level as history’s greats. His students probably would, and if you visit the Frances Searle Building at Northwestern University, you’ll still see a plaque that reads:

“Raymond Carhart, Teacher, Scholar, and Friend. From his students.”

A century is in sight for a good neighbor

By Kathy Florence For The Crier

Bob Hendrickson paid $5 for his first car.

It was a beat-up 1925 Model T Ford with no top — a four-seater open touring model.

Hendrickson, a Dunwoody resident since 1996, was 19 at the time. He completely rebuilt the engine on the 11-year old car before buying a 1930 Model A sedan three years later.

And each of the more than 25 cars that he’s owned in the years between are as fresh in his mind as his current Ford Focus station wagon — due to a knife-sharp mind that’s as impressive with current events as it is with the past ten decades of memories, and the scrapbooks he’s carefully kept to document each vehicle with photographs and purchase receipts.

Bob will turn 100 this summer.

He has kept a similar scrapbook for each of the homes he and his late wife Ethel purchased during their 68 years of marriage, beginning with their first home, a bungalow inQueens,N.Y.The home was concrete block with a brick face, two bedrooms, a full basement and a coal furnace for steam heat. They financed the $3,990 purchase price with a 6.75 percent mortgage. A photo of the home and the documentation is in his scrapbook.

Likewise, he has an elaborate family tree he created, complete with important dates, college degrees and current employment for each family member.

And he describes in detail the two boats he built from scratch: one a 14-foot, flat-bottomed sailboat with a centerboard; the other a V-bottomed 12-foot car-top plywood boat with a 3-horsepower outboard motor.

His penchant for documentation is complemented by a full array of hobbies and interests that range from photography, the stock market and ancient history, to his children and grandchildren. He watches the History Channel, business-related programs on CNBC, “NCIS Los Angeles” and has a daily afternoon date with the Steve Harvey Show.

He still enjoys cooking. (This reporter enjoyed a scrumptious rice pudding he’d made for an evening’s dessert when he was hosting his 90-year old neighbor Bob Whitfield, also a widower, who sings in the choir and does his own yard work. Yet another great story to tell.)

Hendrickson does his own grocery shopping, enjoys financial planning and works his schedule around a Monday evening ritual phone call with his son inMassachusetts.

Until just a few years ago, he picked up his grandchildren at Kingsley or the bus stop after school each afternoon and did his own yard work. But a fall in 2013, a mini stroke, and a case of edema have slowed him down a bit.

He had let his driver’s license expire on his last birthday, but then realized he would need it for banking, so he renewed for another five years, though he now leaves the driving to two full-time caregivers who alternate weeks in his Dunwoody home to provide driving, cooking and sharing in conversation and favorite shows. He has a walker but doesn’t like to use it, and opts for a cane instead. He loves clipping coupons, but avoids Wednesday shopping because of the senior citizen crowds. He’s an avid reader of theAtlantanewspaper and The Dunwoody Crier, and always has his binoculars handy for bird watching.

Bob earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the College of the City ofNew York. He began work as a mail boy with Western Electric in 1931 with a delivery route than ran throughManhattanbetween Western Electric and what was then Bell Laboratories. He retired with the same company 45 years later as the company’s financial vice president.

He met Ethel when he was 21 and she was 24, though they had grown up just three blocks from one another in Queens’SpringfieldGardens. They married in 1938 and had two sons.

Hendrickson had two brothers in the service, one a fighter pilot who was shot down overNormandyand survived for three months in the basement of a farmhouse before being rescued. As a husband, a father and the brother of two soldiers, he was initially excused from active military service, but in the early 1940s when the country was desperate for soldiers, he applied for a Navy radar technician program to service radar and sonar systems. He passed the exams and physical, but the program was discontinued when Hitler surrendered in 1945, just days before he was to report.

So instead he joined the New York Civil Patrol Corps, a city-wide voluntary group of civilians that patrolled the streets during a time when police forces were sparse because of the war. For three years, he was one of 60 volunteers that would report at 8 p.m. every fourth night to patrolQueensCounty. The patrols wore military pants and jackets and if qualified, were issued a 38-calibur revolver and a night stick.

“I never had to use my gun,” said Hendrickson. “But there was a guy threatening some folks at a carnival inQueensVillageone night. I jabbed him in the gut and gave him a little lesson.”

Western Electric took the Hendricksons fromNew YorktoAllentown,Pa.,Winston-Salem,Washington, D.C.,Chicago,OklahomaCity and back toNew Yorkbefore he retired in 1976.

Ethel attended business school to learn bookkeeping and typing, but her love was knitting and embroidery. She and her mother knitted sweaters for soldiers and for years she made blankets and booties and hand-embroidered sweaters for children. She was 95 when she died in 2006.

The Hendricksons were active in their churches and joined St. Martin’s in the Fields Episcopal Church when they moved toAtlanta. Five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren now join their two sons, Bob and Tom.

A favorite car for this car lover? “Perhaps the 1932 Studebaker Dictator Eight,” said Bob. He purchased the four-door, two-toned blue and gray vehicle from Ethel’s aunt.

“It had 2700 miles on it when I got it. It had chrome artillery wheels with thick spokes, white wall tires and a hill-holder device,” he described.

Hendrickson’s detailed documentation lists the Dictator Eight followed by three more Studebakers all purchased new: a 1950 Studebaker Champion, a 1952 Studebaker V-Eight and 1956 Studebaker President before moving to a Ford in 1962. When he doesn’t have photographs of the actual car he owned, he has substituted a maker’s photo of the model.

Just a few weeks shy of his 100th birthday, Hendrickson hasn’t forgotten that it’s time to also lubricate the grandmother clock that he and Ethel purchased many years ago.

“I keep a record of its maintenance and I lubricate the workings every three years,” he said.

Time marches on for that finely crafted, beautifully maintained favorite clock.

Similarly, Robert Wilbur Hendrickson turns 100 on August 20.

Questions to Ask Your Hearing Specialist Before You Buy Hearing Aids

Question Mark

When it’s time to purchase a car, the majority of us know exactly what to do. We complete some research, evaluate options, and compile a list of questions to ask the dealership. We work on this so that by the time we’re set to head to the dealership, we have an idea of what we’re looking for and we know which questions to ask.

When it’s time to purchase hearing aids, on the other hand, many people don’t know where to start. Although the process is comparable to buying a car, it’s also in many ways more complicated (and probably not quite as fun). It’s more complicated because every person’s hearing loss is unique and each pair of hearing aids requires custom programming. If buying a car was like this, it would be like you bringing it home and needing to install the transmission yourself.

Luckily, you don’t need to know how to program your own hearing aids, but you do need to know the questions to ask to ensure that your hearing specialist covers all bases, correctly programming the most appropriate hearing aids for your requirements and lifestyle. In this manner, putting together a list of questions to talk about with your hearing specialist is the single most important thing you can do prior to your hearing test.

But which questions should you ask? Here are 35 to get you started, broken down by category:


Specific kinds of hearing loss require specific forms of treatment. The more you understand your own hearing loss, the better you’ll be able to evaluate hearing aid options. You need to determine what type of hearing loss you have, if it will get worse, how soon you should treat it, and all of your treatment options.

Questions to ask:

  • What type of hearing loss do I have?
  • Do I have unilateral or bilateral hearing loss?
  • Can I have a copy of my audiogram?
  • Will my hearing loss worsen over time if left untreated?
  • Will hearing aids improve my hearing?
  • How much of my hearing will hearing aids return?
  • What are my other choices aside from hearing aids?


Hearing aids are offered in multiple styles, from several producers, equipped with numerous features. You need a methodical way to narrow down your choices to ensure that you get the right hearing aid without wasting money on features you don’t need or want.

Questions to ask:

  • How many different types of hearing aid styles do you offer?
  • Which hearing aid style is most effective for my requirements and lifestyle?
  • Which digital features would be valuable to me, and which could I do without?
  • What are telecoils and directional microphones and do I need them?
  • Do I need Bluetooth compatible hearing aids?
  • Do my hearing aids need to be professionally programmed?
  • Do I need one or two hearing aids, and why?


The total cost of a pair of hearing aids commonly includes the professional fees associated with custom fitting and programming, along with several other services or accessories. You want to make sure that you understand what you’re getting for the price, if financing is obtainable, if insurance will help, what the warranty includes, the length of the trial period, and if any “restocking fees” apply to the end of the trial period.

Questions to ask:

  • What is the total price of the hearing aids, including professional services?
  • Do you supply any financing plans?
  • Will my insurance help pay for hearing aids?
  • How much will my hearing aids cost me on an annual basis?
  • Do the hearing aids have warranty coverage?
  • How much do hearing aid repairs cost after the warranty has ended?
  • Are repairs done at the office or somewhere else?
  • If my hearing aids have to be mailed out for repairs, are loaner hearing aids provided?
  • Is there a trial period and how long is it?
  • Is there a restocking fee if I return my hearing aids during or after the trial period?


Your hearing specialist should explain to you how to care for, clean, and control your hearing aids. To be sure that nothing is forgotten, see to it that all of these questions are addressed:

Questions to ask:

  • How do I operate my hearing aids?
  • How do I use hearing aids with telephones and other technology?
  • Can you show me how to use all of the buttons, features, and settings for my hearing aids?
  • What are environmental presets, and how do I access them?
  • Do I require a remote control, or can I use my smart-phone to control the hearing aids?
  • What batteries do I need, how long will they last, and how do I replace them?
  • How should I clean and store my hearing aids?
  • Do I need to return for follow-up appointments?
  • How long will my hearing aids keep working?
  • Do I need to update the hearing aid software application?
  • Do I become eligible for future hearing aid upgrades?


Ok, so purchasing a pair of hearing aids might not be as fun as buying a new car. But the quality of life you’ll achieve from better hearing might very well make you happier, as you’ll reconnect with people and enjoy the subtleties of sound once again. So go ahead and schedule that hearing test — your new pair of hearing aids are waiting for a test drive.

The Digital Advantage: Analog Vs. Digital Hearing Aids

You’ve likely been told that today’s hearing aids are “not your father’s hearing aids,” or that hearing aid technology is light-years ahead of where it used to be, even as recently as 5 to 10 years ago. But what makes modern technology so much better? And what exactly can modern hearing aids accomplish that couldn’t [...]

[Continue reading…]

The Top 5 Hearing Aid Myths Exposed

Sometimes, it seems as if we love to mislead ourselves. Wikipedia has an page titled “List of common misconceptions” that contains hundreds of universally-held but false beliefs. Yes, I know it’s Wikipedia, but take a look at the bottom of the webpage and you’ll see approximately 385 references to credible sources. As an example, did [...]

[Continue reading…]

How to Read Your Audiogram at Your Hearing Test

You’ve just concluded your hearing test. The hearing specialist is now entering the room and presents you with a graph, like the one above, except that it has all of these icons, colors, and lines. This is supposed to reveal to you the exact, mathematically precise characteristics of your hearing loss, but to you it [...]

[Continue reading…]

How to Persuade Someone to Get a Hearing Test

We don’t need to tell you the symptoms of hearing loss; you already know them all too well. You have a different type of problem: persuading someone you care for to get their hearing evaluated and treated. But just how are you supposed to get through to someone who denies there is even an issue, [...]

[Continue reading…]