A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

On Being Hard-of-hearing/deaf and COOL!

In Hearing Loss on September 10, 2008 at 10:42 pm
I don’t know if some of you do this, but I have this knack for noticing other people’s hearing aids.  Last week I met a young woman in her twenties with a beige in-the-ear aid.  Usually when I meet someone else wearing aids, I like to ask them about it.  Not that I’m nosey, but I figure we have something in common.  
So I mentioned that I noticed she was wearing an aid.  Right away I could tell she felt self-conscious about it and I had made her uncomfortable.  To put her at ease, I began talking about my own aids, and my hearing history.  I made sure she understood that I have worn hearing aids since I was her age even though I am probably old enough to be her mother now.  Then she began to open up about it, and I noticed she pinned her hair up while she was talking, as if she realized she didn’t have to hide it anymore now that her secret was out.  But her final statement made me feel sad.  “Look at me,” she said, “I’m in my twenties, and ALREADY wearing hearing aids!” She let out a long sigh as if that was the most depressing thing in the whole world. 
Gosh I understood exactly how she felt.  I remember getting my first pair of hearing aids.  The audiologist gave me a pamphlet with instructions on how to take care of them.  On the front cover were illustrations of people with wrinkles and gray hair.  I cried all the way home.  When you’re young, and at your sexiest, the last thing you want is to look like a senior citizen. 
It is a fact that one out of every three people over sixty-five develops hearing loss, so most people inevitably associate diminished hearing ability with old age.  Consequently most of us wait an average of seven years before seeking help from a doctor.  With that in mind, I decided to make a slide show of COOL hearing aid, cochlear implants, deaf people and general hearing loss coolness. 

By the way, if it stops before you’re done watching, just refresh the page.
  1. Great article Kim, and great slide show!

    This issue (the public perception that HOH = old) strikes a nerve with me too. I’m 49 (OK, the twenty-somethings would call me “old” ;), and it annoys me that even the hearing aid industry promotes that perception (of course – it’s their biggest market).

    I may live to be vindicated though, as the Ipod generation lines up at the dispenser’s office in their 30s and 40s to join our ranks.

    I’ve toyed with the idea of telling people (particularly “kids”) if they ask that my hearing aids are the latest thing in Bluetooth/cellualr technology – I can make phone calls by just thinking of the person! Maybe I can start a new fad. 🙂

    Paul S

  2. I don’t wear hearing aids or cochlear implants, but I do tend to notice those who do. But unlike you, Kim, I do not take the opportunity to begin a conversation upon noticing a wearer. However, I do something similar when I recognize someone is Deaf/deaf/HoH. I seem to have a knack for noticing one’s body language that indicates a person is deaf or has a hearing loss.

    Just a few months ago I was grabbing a bite to eat at an airport restaurant before my flight and I noticed the lady next to me could not hear. We struck up a conversation (she did not speak and I did not sign, but we communicated perfectly. LOL) and I saw her physically relax at being in the company of someone who, to some extend, shared her experience. It seems your recognizing and speaking to fellow hearing aid and cochlear implant wearers has the same effect.

    I hope younger wearers can change the perception that losing your hearing and needing hearing aids or cochlear implants is solely for the “older” population. Thanks for doing your part to correct that stigma, Kim!!

    And Paul, if anyone can start a new fad it would be you!! LOL


  3. I’ve had a hearing aid since I was nine, and it definitely was not a cool thing for me. I took it off every chance I had and never wore it during the summer. After I became deaf at the age of 19, I finally stopped hiding my hearing aids. Today, at 43, I have some cool blue earmolds with glitter in them. They rock!

  4. Ohh I hate when people associate hearing loss with getting old…being 19, that’s not something I can identify with.

    Thanks for the slideshow! It definitely made me feel a little cooler 🙂

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