When it comes to hearing loss, one huge problem is overcoming our own insecurities. Learn about overcoming the stigma of hearing aids from our friend, Mike Richardson, the VP of Marketing for Blue Angels Hearing.
A social stigma is a sign of disapproval of a particular person. Human society creates a sense of shame in the minds of the people it signals out. This represents one of the cruelest sides of humanity.
Overcoming the Social Stigma of Wearing Hearing Aids
The person or group affected is inevitably from a minority category. Only the brave few fight back. The rest of us try to remain as unobtrusive as possible when in the presence of the people we perceive as judging us unfairly. In this post, we apply this theory in the context of hearing aid stigma.
It’s a Two-Way Street
If we were picked on when we were kids – and who wasn’t at some time in their lives – we learned the best way out was to ignore it, so the bully didn’t get what they wanted, which is a reaction to their enticement.
We think it’s likely hard-of-hearing kids get picked on at school with taunts like ‘those hearing aids look bad like you’re a nerd’ or something similar. This can easily create a sense of shame in a child’s mind, and that’s a horrible thing to do.
Some Adults We Know Still Think Hearing Aids Look Bad
One of our team did a bit of psychology at college, and we asked them how this works. Most of us wanted to be like the prettiest girl or the most handsome boy at school, they explained. We’d search out any ‘defects’ in the mirror and were ashamed when we inevitably discovered one.
Hearing aid stigma works the same way, too, even if we are ‘mature adults,’ which we never seem to reach. Our social programming tells us anything that makes us different from our ideal role model is wrong, but the point is we do it to ourselves.
We Apply it to Ourselves!
That’s right! Folks with an acceptable level of hearing don’t go around looking for hearing aid users so they can single them out and embarrass them. It’s only when we age, and our hearing diminishes that we become interested in them.
If we are considering hearing aids for ourselves or a friend, we may start to notice them. But not because we think hearing aids look bad. If anything, we are surprised they are so small and unobtrusive.
I Think My Friend Has This Hearing Aid Stigma
The stigma of hearing aids can play out in various ways. It’s important to understand where your friend is coming from and not try to ‘force’ your own opinions.
Are naturally vain people always fussing over their looks?
Try explaining that they won’t even notice their hearing aids in the mirror unless they deliberately focus on them. When did they last notice a person wearing hearing aids? How often does this happen?
However, we don’t suggest you try explaining how hearing aid stigma works. Instead, if they remember noticing hearing aids on people, ask them, ‘Did those hearing aids look bad, or did they quickly fade into the background of their appearance?”
Ultimately, those who are hard of hearing or deaf are judged in ways that are not fair. We hope that people can be more understanding and empathetic to the millions of people globally who wear hearing aids to better retain their hearing as a society.