Monday, 11 June 2012

"Pimping" our Hearing Aids and "Jazzing Up" our CIs...

This is a -much- longer copy of an article posted on the Limping Chicken website today, its an update to my previous post "Adult Audiology"...I wanted to post it on here as well so that I could showcase everyone's pictures and comments!

Back in April I wrote a post entitled “Pimping My Hearing Aids” which was all about my adventures into 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 alongside the same piece of writing that featured on here. 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 and 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” and into “jazzing up your CIs (cochlear implants)”. Designs involve not only 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, having equipment which we can influence the design of will make us feel more comfortable and we 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! 

Finally, I was amazed at the flood of comments I received from the “NDCS mums” after I posed my questions on Facebook! Here’s some of what they told me: 

“I think it lets them show their personality and have ownership of their aids so they know nobody else has anything like them. Personal expression of taste!”

“They are more fun for him, I can see them when he’s chucked them in temper, and others can see them so they are aware he's deaf and to speak to him face to face or at least help them understand why his speech is slurred!”

“We are also very proud of her magic ears and everyone loves the different designs she models, they represent who Lucie is a very bright & bubbly little girl who is proud of her CI's magic ears.”

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 now-a-days 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’m I did promise people that I would showcase all of the “pimped designs”! So below is a gallery of the coolest hearing aids and CIs in town! 

I just want to say a MASSIVE thank you to all the amazing and inspirational "NDCS mums" who gave me so much feedback and sent me endless pictures of their children's very very cool hearing aids! :)

If you're interested click HERE to go to the Ear Gear website - a very cool and funky way to decorate your hearing aids as well as keeping them safe from dirt, water etc!
Also, an American company called OtoCool make a product called "Tube Riders" which are a fun way to make the tubes of your hearing aids a bit funky... Click HERE for the link! :)


  1. Well done Ni :D
    Here is a picture of Gabi's Hearing Aids, she loves choosing the colour of her moulds!

  2. For a whole gallery, please see our world-famous Stupid CI Tricks photo gallery.

    Also, SkinIt has a line of skins for Advanced Bionics CI processors (but none for hearing aids, yet :-(

    Dan Schwartz,
    Editor, The Hearing Blog

    1. I contacted them once about 2 years ago to see if they would start doing hearing aids. Never heard anything. :(

  3. Awesome! I want some of those - definitely the leopard skins!

  4. theyre all very cool :) and I like Gabi's aids Sarah!!

    A group of people have since this post was written set up a facebook group to do with decorating hearing aids!

    here is the link if you want to join!

    thanks for the comments as always! :)


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  7. Where do you get the stuff to do all this pimping to your aids?

    1. well i personally use nail foil stickers from places like boots or accessorize, but you can get them in supermarkets too like sainsburys have some nice ones :)
      also, if im going on an activity weekend or climbing or doing sports i like to use ear gear (type into google and click on the connevans link) theyre a bit expensive but last forever and you can take them on and off as many times as you want. they also protect aids/implants/BAHAs from wet weather etc.

      I know some people have experimented with colourful tape, special stickyback printer paper etc...

      we have a facebook group with some ideas =

      hope that helps :)

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