Ni Gallant: The craze for pimping your hearing aids!

Posted on June 11, 2012

Back in April I wrote a post entitled Pimping My Hearing Aids which was all about my adventures in adult audiology services and how disappointed I was that I was no longer allowed to have the colourful hearing aids I love.

With some inspiration from one of the “NDCS Mums” on Facebook I went out and bought myself some red and white polka dot nail foil stickers and set about decorating my hearing aids.

At the time I uploaded pictures to Facebook, Twitter and to my own blog, as well as Limping Chicken. The response was pretty impressive! Lots of parents, teenagers and audiologists commented on the blog post and pictures saying how cool the hearing aids looked and how they thought it was a good idea.

Two months on, I’m proud to say that I feel as if I’ve been part of a new trend in hearing aid design with new looks ranging from simple flowery stickers on already coloured aids and colourful ear-gear, to full out jubilee decoration with frequent changes of design to match different outfits.

I’m also pleased to say that the decoration craze has now spread beyond “pimping your hearing aids” into “jazzing up your CIs (cochlear implants)”. Designs involve not only the decoration of processors but also the addition of stickers or hair clips to the coil.

Please note – some of these designs, frankly, make my hearing aids look boring!

Although all this decoration is great fun there is a more serious note to this new craze. I asked parents and teenagers to explain to me why they thought “pimping their hearing aids/implants” was important either for themselves or for their child.

Gabi (aged 12) told me that having hearing aids that were pink (her favourite colour) made her more likely to wear them than if they were plain and boring.

One proud mum told me that she first “pimped” her daughter’s hearing aids while they were waiting for colourful ones from audiology. She told me about her memories of having NHS plastic glasses and how embarrassed she was. She wants her daughter to grow up to be “proud of her awesome magic ears”!

Two 19 year old friends told me that personalising their hearing aids made them feel fashionable and that “as a young person with hearing difficulties it can be embarrassing to accept that we’re different, and having equipment which we can influence the design of will make us feel more comfortable and more likely to wear hearing aids”.

I’ve also been told that being able to match or compliment your outfit with your hearing aids as well as your hair/make up is very cool!

On a personal note I strongly believe that the adult audiology line of “only adults with mental health issues or additional learning difficulties may have coloured aids” is a bit weak.

As a teenager or young adult the ability and opportunity to express yourself in any way possible is so important. Nobody wants to go through high school, university or even work with boring old “grandparent/artificial limb” coloured hearing aids. Deaf young people have enough problems overcoming differences between themselves and their hearing peers without throwing boring, old fashioned hearing aids into the mix…

So listen up audiology services, hearing aid manufacturers and anybody wanting to start a business that could well make them some money!

Many cochlear implants nowadays come with “sleeves” which can be changed to give different coloured processers depending on the mood. Where are our hearing aid sleeves?

Or if “sleeves” are impractical I can see a rather large market out there for hearing aid and CI sized/shaped foil stickers!!

Maybe I should apply to be on Dragon’s Den..?

I promised people that I would showcase all of the “pimped designs”! So below are more of the coolest hearing aids and CIs in town!

Ni is a deaf teen in mainstream school. This year she was on the NDCS Youth Advisory Board and as well as this she runs a Youth Group for Worcestershire deaf teens called “Deafinity.” She started writing a blog ( a couple of months ago about life from a deaf teenagers perspective and says that “somehow what I said resonates with other young people – so I carried on!”

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Posted in: features, ni gallant