Will the deaf one day "hear" through their hands? We don't mean through sign language, but through a small device that sends vibrations through the palm. Dr. Robert H. Gault, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, developed the mechanism as a means to allow the deaf to hear by touch. Ideally, deaf people would learn to match vibration patterns with speech patterns, which "is scarcely more difficult than is learning what similar combinations of vibrations mean when they fall upon the ears of a normal person."
The device, which vaguely resembled a telephone receiver, operated much like one, except that it used touch-based vibrations instead of sound waves. In his tests, Dr. Gault successfully taught five deaf subjects to understand 15 sentences made of 90 one-syllable words. The scientific community was so excited by Gault's discoveries that he was recruited by the National Research Council to continue his work on the device, but presumably, it never really caught on.
Read the full story in "New Instrument Enables the Deaf to Hear with Their Hands"