I was pleasantly surprised to read an article entitled Glasses Are Cool. Why Aren’t Hearing Aids? I’ve often wondered about that so was happy to see someone else asking the same question.
Why aren’t hearing aids cool? Why is it that people respond to the negative advertising for hearing aids as “small”, and “discreet” rather than stylish and beautiful, and of course in addition to affordable and excellent hearing quality?
I assume it has to do with the negative stereotypes of people with hearing loss as being slow, less intelligent and the unmentionable, old. After all, who wants to be associated with those stereotypes?
But we know those stereotypes are not true. Our hearing loss does not define us; rather it is just one aspect of whom we are. In addition, we didn’t lose our intelligence as our hearing declined. As for “old”, did you know that at least 60% of people with hearing loss are in the work force or educational institutions?
As for myself, I wear my hearing devices every day and I want people to see them. That way if I have a problem hearing, they can see the processors of my cochlear implants and understand that I have a hearing loss. Then I can easily explain strategies that will help me understand them. This is far better than for them to think that I am slow or less intelligent because I misheard them and give an answer out of context.
Taking it a step further, since I wear my devices all the time, I would like them to be attractive. You can get colored hearing devices and put stickers on them, but I’d like to have designer hearing devices. Yes, why not?
For this to happen, there would need to be a partnership between fashion designers and hearing aid manufacturers. This can only happen when people with hearing loss let go of the negative stereotypes, and feel comfortable showing their hearing devices – just like people that wear eyeglasses do.
If you’re thinking, “impossible” – that can’t happen with hearing aids; people just want small. Then remember that glasses used to be very uncool. In fact eyeglass wearers used to be called “three eyed”. Today however, their glasses are fashion statements. Why can’t the same happen with hearing devices?
But maybe my dream has come true, or at least partially ….
I found out that this exhibit consists of a team of designers, engineers, makers, ethicists and deaf women that are making jewelry that responds to sound. This is a European project, called “Quietude”, funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme Wear Sustain. As a result of their research and design, a person that is deaf or with a severe hearing loss can register where sound is coming from.
This is the closest I’ve seen to having our hearing instruments beautiful. No it’s not hearing aids but they are devices that help people locate sound. And they are beautiful (see pictures on top of page).
I look forward to the day when hearing manufactures and designers form partnerships. Then we’ll know for sure that the stigma of hearing loss has become a thing of the past. Then not only will eye glasss be cool but so will hearing devices – Hallelujah!