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!