Would a Different Look for Hearing Aids Boost Usage?

Why does hearing loss stigma linger while other cultural stigmas successfully fade away? Is it because hearing aids are not like glasses and don’t fix our hearing loss entirely? Is it because hearing loss is invisible so it doesn’t get taken as seriously? Or maybe it is the hearing aids themselves? In this article for HHTM, I explore the possible reasons for the stickiness of hearing loss stigma and ask, “Do hearing aids need a makeover?”

An excerpt from the article is below. Read the full post at FindHearing on HHTM.

What if hearing aids were as fashionable as glasses?

Would a Change in Look or Feel Lower Hearing Aid Stigma?

What if the world of hearing devices was different? Would a wider variety of options in more interesting colors and designs help us wear our devices with pride rather than chagrin? Would we flaunt the latest design element or communication feature rather than hide it?

Better looking options certainly couldn’t hurt if they didn’t add to the price, of course! At a minimum, breaking the standard mold would allow for more personalization and style. An added benefit: with higher fashion comes lower stigma. More interesting looking devices might improve advertising around hearing aids too, giving the items the panache needed to sell the product the way that stylish frames do in ads for glasses.

A new name—one other than hearing aids—might also help make hearing devices more popular. Some manufacturers—particularly those in the direct-to-consumer space—are already heading in that direction. What if we adopted their terminology for all hearing related devices?

New OTC hearing aids may lead the industry in lowering stigma by adopting a more consumer-oriented tone in their look, feel and name. Better attitudes about hearing devices—whatever their shape, size and use case—will trickle up to more mainstream products over time, benefiting us all. Let’s get that makeover started!

For more information, read the full article on HHTM.

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Book: Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss

13 thoughts on “Would a Different Look for Hearing Aids Boost Usage?

  1. Agree it it time for a change. I always refer to them as my hearing devices. While we are at it I think “hard of hearing” could use a change. it is a term hate more than hearing aids.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. I have always loved my hearing aids, starting with the ITEs and now a succession of BTEs. I celebrate them by covering them in bright, colorful Ear Gear (which also serves as great protection in our ultra humid climate. I would love to have the body of the aids in different colors, but that seems to be reserved for kids. Why do they get all the cool stuff? With the last pair that required an earmold to hold them steady, I was able to convince my audiologist to make the molds sparkly. Most people never noticed them, but I loved them anyway!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Sparkly sounds fabulous! Thank you for sharing what works for you.

  3. Absolutely! It would be fabulous if my hearing aids remotely resembled hearrings! Cheers to hearables! At Age 19, I was very glad to get hearing aids because I wanted to hear better, but I hated the way they looked.The color resembled the tepid “flesh: crayola crayon. Why did these devices that were big, clunky and squealed with every hug, so godawful ugly? After decades of wearing neutral colors, I was able to get brilliant blue and with Beautiful blue ear molds. I loved those hearing aids! My hearing continues to diminish; sadly, I can no longer purchase colorful aids. With my severe-profound loss, my only option is boring grey-brown “discreet” colored aids. UCK. I’m in the market for new aids but I’m not remotely impressed with my options.With a price tag of $7,000+ I want to be excited about this purchase! My dear audie has tried to get me a children’s mold, but to no avail. To add further insult, it’s as if the hearing industry is deliberately discriminating against us, their long time hearing aid consumers by limiting our choices to stigmatizing “discreet colors. The neutral color palette doesn’t even include black or white, the colors popular by hearables.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      More creative and colorful options for adults would be great! Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  4. Jerry Henderson – Pownal Maine – Thank you for coming to my space. This is where I post thoughts, opinions and commentary on a variety of subjects at irregular intervals. I try to do something weekly, but have not nailed down a rigid schedule, like every Wednesday, yet. If you would like email notifications of new posts, you can make that happen right on the site. Simply enter your email address to subscribe. Also, if you would like to comment I welcome that. Just do so in the space at the bottom of any selected post. Sharing thoughts, opinion and commentary is a peculiarly human characteristic. It must be exercised to be enjoyed. Jerry Henderson
    Jerry Henderson says:

    Regarding a new look for hearing aids: Well, Shari, it’s only a matter of time. I remember, as a kid back in the late 30s or early 40s, seeing a hearing aid for the first time. This old man had a huge honking ear plug with a No.12 sized rubber cable leading down to a unit hanging on his belt the size of a Gideon Bible.

    If there is a teaching within those eighty odd years it is this: your children, should they inherit your hearing loss, will have treatment options unimaginable in today’s terms. And along with those options will come less stigma because of sheer numbers.

    With the deployment of each hearing aid and cochlear implant stigma will be diminished a little bit. We must encourage everyone to get tested and treated. This is something each of us can do.

    Meanwhile designers and engineers will continue to partner up to thrill us with innovation and sparkle. Why not completely internal units that can run on the bodies own energy? The continuing drive toward miniaturization will not stop at the skin.

    I regret that I have already exceeded my “use by” date. But I have seen so many miracles and wonders – this is a wireless communication.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I love your imagination and hope you are right! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with the group.

  5. I agree that hearing aids have always lagged behind glasses as far as being fashion statements. I think one of the primary sources of the stigma is the inherent impairment in communication when the hearing loss is such that hearing aids, as you say Shari, can’t completely ” correct” the way glasses usually do. And that impairment often ” looks” like a cognitive loss, even though it isn’t. When I was younger, the goal seemed to be to ” hide” that you were wearing one. Maybe if instead it was more obvious, people would could respond better by speaking more clearly or more slowly.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Interesting. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the matter.

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