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We want funky hearing aids!

Back in November I found out I needed glasses for both distance and close vision. That meant I got to choose new glasses frames. And wow, what a choice! There was a frame there for every colour, size and shape of face. I ended up going for some funky purple tortoiseshell glasses which I love.

It got me thinking about how boring the hearing aids we get are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful that we can get hearing aids through the NHS. But I still wish they would give us a choice that extends beyond the usual black, brown, beige or grey.

They let kids choose the colour not only of their hearing aids but also their moulds. I am utterly jealous when I see turquoise hearing aids or glittery moulds. I know some of my supposedly grown-up friends have managed to wheedle their audiologists into giving them something more colourful. But the rest of us live on with sensible colours.

And I think this is contributing massively to the stigma around hearing loss.

Do you remember when NHS glasses were just as unstylish? As a kid you got pink for a girl or blue for a boy (try pigeon-holing kids that way these days!). And when you got older there was one style and a choice of either brown or black.

Glasses were a source of mickey-taking and bullying. Anyone else get called “speccy 4 eyes” or “glegs”? And we hated the fact that our glasses made us look like our grannies.

Now it’s the same with hearing aids. A business friend rang me last week to say she’d been referred for a hearing test. She was worried less about finding out she had hearing loss than she was about having to wear “something like my Nan used to have”.

I would love the NHS to offer patients a much more interesting range of colours so hearing aids start to be seen as an accessory as well as a necessity. But in the meantime I’m one of a number of people with hearing loss that jazz up their hearing aids, BAHAs and CIs. Here's my Christmas pimp:

We want hearing aids we can be a little bit proud of, not something we need to hide under our hair.

I started funking mine up when I had a bone anchored hearing aid. After a year or so I was fed up of covering it up with my hair and decided to be ‘out and proud’ with a shorter hair style. So I added some bling to my BAHA and found it was a great way to engage people in talking about hearing loss. I never had to start the conversation – others were desperate to know what on earth this thing was on my head!

If you want to make your hearing aids a bit more fun or stylish, here are some good resources:

  • Skin-it where you can use your own designs or photos for your stickers

  • Tubetastic for stickers, coloured tubing and hearing aid charms

  • Ebay and Etsy for nail art (don’t use decals needing water, and I accept absolutely no responsibility for any stickering you do!)

  • There’s even a Facebook group you can join.

Do you have hearing aids, a BAHA or CI that is funkier than usual? Show us in the comments!

#Hearingaids #Cochlearimplant #BAHA #stigma

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