Why Hearing Aids is Not a Stigma

why-hearing-aids-is-not-a-stigma

March 3, 2015

Hearing and Speech 0

According to World Health Organization, about 63 million people in India suffer from loss of hearing, and yet only about 2-3% of the affected people use hearing aids. While cost of the Hearing aid is one of the reasons, most people avoid wearing it because they think it makes them appear socially awkward, not cool, or elderly.  Studies show that three children out of 1000 are born with a hearing loss and ear infection and noise exposure causing hearing problem at younger age. Therefore, hearing problems are not confined to the elderly, which makes it even more complex, as younger population would not want to be seen with a hearing aid. However, fortunately, in the past few years, there have been dramatic changes in perception and hearing aids do not seem to have social stigma attached to them as it was a decade ago.

 Changing Perceptions

JAAA (Journal of the American Academy of Audiology) has been conducting studies since 1970, about the view people have about hearing aids. Up to the 1990s, most people including children, viewed hearing aids negatively, and had poor opinion of people wearing these devices. However, since 2000, there has been a shift in perception and people do not seem to mind people wearing hearing aid devices.

According to most recent studies that appeared in JAAA’s October 2014 issue, 24 MBA students were asked to view photos of a young person wearing either one of the following devices –

  • Standard behind-the-ear (BTE) device
  • Slim tube open-fit BTE
  • Completely-in-canal (CIC) device
  • Device that looked like a Bluetooth headset
  • Device that looked like ear buds of an MP3 player

The students were asked to rate what they saw on a seven-point scale based on the young man appearing –

  • Young/old
  • Unsuccessful/successful
  • Attractive/unattractive
  • Uneducated/educated
  • Friendly/unfriendly
  • Intelligent/unintelligent
  • Trustworthy/untrustworthy

The results were very encouraging. Photos of people wearing CIC hearing aids were rated much older compared to persons wearing ear. Secondly, the trustworthy rating was more for people wearing BTE standard devices compared to ones with Bluetooth devices. Overall, there seem to be no stigma associated with any of these hearing aids.

 Size and Style of Modern Hearing Aids

The change in outlook has also a lot to do with the reduced size and elegant styling of modern hearing aids. You do not see anybody wearing aids that our grandparents used to wear, which means there is no association, taking place. Modern hearing aids are not only highly technologically advanced but they have also shrunk in size considerably. Secondly, their styling is similar to many of the entertainment and communication devices used today by the younger generation, which are considered cool and trendy. People are now not averse in making a statement about their hearing defect, when you consider the number of fun designs that are available that are supposed to be conversation starters.

 People are Concerned about their Health and Confidence Level

Hearing aids not only enable the wearer to hear, but also facilitates healthy functioning of the brain. People who ignore treating their hearing loss are more susceptible to depression and dementia. People have changed their outlook on life, and want to do everything to stay healthy and gain more self-confident. With the reducing stigma about hearing aids and their availability at reduced costs, people no longer have any more problems in wearing these devices and improving their lives.



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