The pros and cons of having visible hearing aids.
Last Wednesday—a first Wednesday of the month—several hearing-loss champions gathered on Twitter for #hearinglosshour, a public hearing-loss chat group.
This group is run by a brilliant deaf writer and entrepreneur, Angie Aspinall. She is very talented, but she wields one super skill that leaves me speechless: Angie can sustain multiple conversations on Twitter with dozens of people and still bring out the best comments for everyone to see.
All of this in real time.
(I really want to see a video of you at work one day, Angie. ☺)
At #hearinglosshour, Angie usually asks a number of questions—the starting point for interesting conversations.
Her first question of last edition is what I want to talk about in this blog post. And I will post some member replies so you can see the several perspectives on this topic.
The main cons: when people see that you wear hearing aids, they might treat you differently or speak to you in a disrespectful way.
Or even ask strange questions such as: “You’re too young to be deaf” Or “Can you read braille?”
Like @deafgirly pointed out though, it’s better to get asked these strange questions, than being ignored. And I agree.
Will people really treat you differently if your hearing aids are on display?
Most people are unaware of how hearing loss works, so it’s normal that some will ask us bizarre questions. Most people do not go out of their way to be offensive.
In reality people don’t care as much as we think.
They don’t spend most of their lives thinking about hearing loss like we do. When people make a comment about my hearing aids it’s usually out of curiosity, and I am glad to take the opportunity to teach about hearing loss.
It doesn’t benefit me alone.
Often, when people are curious they have someone close with hearing loss, and they want to learn for their own sake. When I tell them that for example, hearing aids don’t automatically increase quality of life, their eyes open wide as if it suddenly makes sense that grandma still can’t hear well even with her new hearing aids. They probably thought it was a grandma-issue. No. Hearing aids alone do not solve all hearing-loss problems.
The biggest pro: Enhanced confidence.
Liam O’Dell summarizes it pretty well with his reply: “Pros: confidence. Personally, I’ve also had no ‘cons’ since making the decision to have them on show”
I couldn’t agree more.
Keeping my hearing aids on show boosted my confidence and slowly eroded my fear that people will notice them. The preoccupation with what people think of me vanished.
“Enhanced confidence” was a common pro amongst the #hearinglosshour folks:
A while back, I have personally made the choice to get rid of my big head of hair that had been hiding my hearing aids for several years. It has been the biggest relief for me.
Having my hearing aids on display made my hearing loss much less of a big deal. It felt like making a statement. I was suddenly saying to everyone around me: “Hello, world. These are the hearing aids that I need to converse with the people in it. Now that y’all know this big secret of mine, let’s move on. Let’s talk.”
So that is it. Now you know that I am pro visible hearing aids. What about everyone else at #hearinglosshour? Well, there’s a survey for that:
And what about you?
Are your making an effort to keep your hearing aids visible?
If you do, great! And if you’d like to share what you’ve learned, I’m sure others would find your story encouraging.
Your turn: Are you ready?
On the other hand, if you’re hiding them on purpose and would like to show them off, here’s what you can do.
Something temporary, such as bringing your hair up in a ponytail, could be a great starting point.
Go out on the street and see if the world still stands. I bet it will.
After that, do it again and again. Often. And then, when you’re ready for a more permanent measure, you can:
1. Pimp your hearing aids, applying fancy covers or coloring them. Yes, a lot of people do that. Check out Sarah Smith’s store at http://www.tubetasticpimps.co.uk/ and her FB group for inspiration.
2. [If you don’t mind a shorter haircut] Cut your hair so that your hearing aids will be on show
If you’ve done any of the above, let the others know how it went in the comments. Go on. Inspire them.