Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids — What Does the Potential Consumer Think?

I recently participated in an article for The Hearing Journal — the conclusion of its three part series on Over-The-Counter (OTC) hearing devices. Part 1 included perspectives from hearing health professionals. Part 2 shared views from hearing industry leaders. The third part was from the consumer perspective — people with mild to moderate hearing loss. I am happy to share the article below.

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Experience Deafness: An Invitation To Silence

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be truly deaf? Or wanted a way for your family to understand the experience of deafness, if only for a short time. I had the chance to confront these questions recently at an interesting exhibit entitled “Invitation to Silence” running at The Israeli Children’s Museum.

More than an exhibit, it was an interactive experience led by a deaf guide that served to help visitors get a better understanding of what it would be like to communicate as a deaf person. While some sign language was introduced, communication was primarily achieved through facial expressions and body language rather than formal signing. It was a fun experience and provided much food for thought about living with deafness. 

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Using Earplugs Can Be Cool!

I am pleased to share an excerpt from my most recent article for Healthy Hearing

I remember the battles with my teenage son. He was heading to a loud dance party but was worried about wearing earplugs. He knows better than most of his peers how difficult hearing loss can be and how important it is to protect the hearing that he has, because I have hearing loss. Even so, he resisted wearing them. “My friends won’t be wearing them,” he complained, “They won’t get it. It’s just not cool to wear earplugs.” Despite his complaining, he chose to wear the earplugs and off he went to the loud party.

Like he imagined, he got lots of questions about his earplugs from his friends who were not used to seeing things in his ears. He showed them how loud the music was playing using a decibel reader app on his phone and explained that he wanted to protect his hearing.

What he didn’t expect was that his friends would want to wear them too! The music was so loud it was painful. Luckily he had brought some extra pairs so he could share them with his friends. Wearing earplugs had turned out to be cool after all!

While this story has a happy ending, the perception that wearing earplugs is not cool is a big problem, especially in today’s noisy world.

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How can we make wearing earplugs cool?

1. Encourage influential role models to speak out.

More musicians are wearing earplugs and touting the benefits of wearing them publicly. This includes alternative rock musicians like Chris Martin of Coldplay and classic rock icons like Eric Clapton. At a recent Adele concert, she went out of her way to compliment the children in the audience who were wearing earmuffs for hearing protection. This type of positive feedback from people with influence will help lower stigma and build awareness.

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An Interesting App To Make TV Watching Easier For People With Hearing Loss

Watching TV can be a challenge for people with hearing loss. In my home, I have things set up just the way I want them. I use a sound bar that enhances speech over background noise and always watch with closed captions. But when I am elsewhere, it can be trickier. People are sometimes resistant to putting on the closed captioning or don’t know how to work that feature on their particular television set. The acoustics are often not ideal either, especially if the TV is far across the room like in a waiting room or hotel room. In the exhibit hall at HLAA’s 2018 Convention, I discovered a new tool that might help.

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Don’t Let Hearing Loss Keep You From Your Dreams

She took the stage shoeless, her back slightly turned to the audience as she used visual cues to coordinate with her band. She smiled slightly in anticipation of her performance, as if she were about to share a secret with the audience. The music started and she began to sing — her voice sweet and lyrical, gaining in strength as the song built energy. I couldn’t believe her skill and finesse — especially because she was doing it all without hearing a thing.

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