Presidents with Hearing Loss

We know US presidents as the respected individuals who lead our country. A lot of them have faced the same health problems as many ordinary Americans, including hearing loss.

In recognition of the inauguration, here are a list of presidents who were affected by hearing loss:

  • Ronald Reagan: He was the first president to wear hearing aids in the White House. He developed hearing loss during the 1930s in his acting days when a gun was fired too close to his right ear on set. Because of his willingness to have his hearing aids fit publicly, he significantly reduced the negative association hearing aids had in society, casting their use in a positive light.
  • Bill Clinton: Due to years of music exposure and presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), he was fitted for hearing aids during his second term as president in 1997. He continues to promote the positive aspects of hearing aids.
  • Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson documented his hearing difficulties, showing how they affected his everyday activities. In 1819 he wrote in a letter to physician Vine Utley, “My hearing is distinct in particular conversation, but confused when several voices cross each other, which unfits me for the society of the table.”
  • Theodore Roosevelt: After leaving office and about a year before his death, Roosevelt lost hearing in his right ear due to a procedure to remove an abscess.
  • George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter:
    All of these presidents were fitted for hearing aids post-presidency, allowing them to live confidently and continue to have an impact on US policies.

Other presidential associations with hearing loss

Other US presidents experienced some type of hearing loss and/or worked to raise awareness and promote healthy hearing.

Abraham Lincoln helped establish Gallaudet, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing, as a collegiate institution by signing a bill into law in 1894. All of the graduates’ diplomas to this day get signed by the current president.

James Garfield gave his last speech at Gallaudet University (then-College) before being assassinated. He succeeded in deflecting opposition by numerous congressional members who viewed the institution as a “white elephant”.

More recently, George H.W. Bush signed the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act into law, which prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities, including hearing loss, in situations like employment or public service.

It is never a bad idea to check you hearing and then have it formally tested and, if necessary, treated. As these presidents could/can attest, healthy hearing promotes a healthy life.