Researchers at Bristol University in England have used a new electronic technique to allow a deaf girl to hear again. "Helen" suddenly went deaf two years ago after a "stirrup"-shaped bone inside her ear became faulty.
GV Church tower with bell ringing, PAN DOWN TO Girl walking (Sound stops at 10 ft.) TO CU Girl
CU Model of ear (bell sound at 18 ft.)
CU Model interior ear
CU Girl with headphone
SV Doctor speaks into microphone, "hello, can you hear me?" and girl turns around and takes off headphones
CU Graph showing noise peaks
CU Graph, showing removal of noise peaks
CU Girl unable to write because she can't hear properly (2 shots)
CU New circuit and oscilloscope (4 shots) (MUTE)
SV Doctor speaks (SOF over girl writing) (3 shots)
SV Girl wearing hearing aid standing by roadside
PROF. GREGORY: "Are you ready Helen? I'm going to read you some words. Two telegraph poles ... out on the lawn ... Jill took the umbrella ... the fox is missing."
Initials CL/1851 CL/1911
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Researchers at Bristol University in England have used a new electronic technique to allow a deaf girl to hear again. "Helen" suddenly went deaf two years ago after a "stirrup"-shaped bone inside her ear became faulty.
Professor Richard Gregory, at the university, started work with her by talking to her through a microphone and headphones. But the amplification of the sound, made the high peaks in the noise pattern unbearably loud.
Even by "clipping" these unwanted peaks, by electronics, Helen was still unable to hear properly, because the sound was distorted.
The distortions could not be filtered out because they were the same frequency as the sound needed for listening.
By using a new technique, the frequency of the sound was increased, leaving only those distortions, which were out of range of human hearing, which could be filtered out.
now Helen can hear properly again thanks to a special hearing aid which has been designed using the new technique.
This film is serviced with speech from Professor Gregory. A transcript follows.
SYNOPSIS: Great George Bell rings in Bristol, and everyone hears it except Helen. Two years ago her world suddenly spun like a top, she lost her balance, and plunged into a world of silence ...
Now one ear can just hear with difficulty, and the other not at all. A sound wave entering Helen's ear announces its arrival, by vibrating her eardrum ...
These vibrations travel along tiny linkages of bone and cartilage. Just an in the ear of a person with normal hearing, the spiral converts the vibration into electrical messages Helen's brain can understand. But here something has gone wrong. That tiny stirrup-shaped bone must be vibrated a million times harder if she is to hear clearly. There is a way of talking to her, but that pained expression poses a real problem for deaf people.
A graph of the sound created by saying "hello" shows high energy peaks. All the information contained in the sound is in the middle ... that's the part she must hear.
But if that is amplified those useless peaks grow so high they hit her pain threshold.
Professor Richard Gregory at the University of Bristol tried an electronic process to clip off the unwanted high peaks. But Helen did not react at first, she still couldn't hear.
By clipping the peaks, the sound was distorted. But by using a recent electronics advance, the voice was put into a higher frequency and the distortions could be filtered out.
By using the new method, the results were quite dramatic. Now Helen can once again hear the clock bell ringing.