Hearing Health Foundation (previously Deafness Research Foundation) was founded in 1958 because of the vision, strength and determination of one remarkable woman: the late Collette Ramsey-Baker.
After living with substantial hearing loss for many years, at age 35 an early fenestration operation completely restored Mrs. Ramsey-Baker’s hearing. In gratitude, she sought to support hearing and balance research, to donate money to a national non-profit organization, but none existed. That was when she decided to create a non-profit that could support medical research to further hearing loss treatments, prevention, and cures.
Under her leadership, HHF bestowed grants upon colleges and other research institutions for research and improvement of hearing. Mrs. Ramsey-Baker received letters of commendation from many renowned leaders, including Presidents Herbert Hoover and Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as Helen Keller and Cardinal Francis Spellman. She was also listed in Who’s Who for Women.
Since 1958, the organization has made incredible breakthroughs in research and care, including the co-founding of the National Temporal Bone Banks Program, passing of the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening legislation, contributing to the development of the cochlear implant, and surgery for otosclerosis.
Newborn Hearing Screening
In the 1990s, HHF was a leader in advocating for Universal Newborn Hearing Screening legislation. In 1993, only 5 percent of newborns were tested at birth for hearing loss. By 2007, 94 percent of newborns were tested.
Back in the 1970s, HHF began funding research into cochlear implant technology. HHF’s founder, Collette Ramsey Baker, prevailed despite objections and doubts from supporters that she was wasting money. Cochlear implants have proven to be a valuable treatment option for people with profound hearing loss, benefiting 125,000 people in the U.S. and 300,000 people worldwide.