Monday, 25 June 2012

Pondering Audiology... again!

This week I've been thinking and chatting about audiology again - in particular this same issue around access to colourful hearing aids.

I do still think it's important to firstly say that I love my audiologist! She's deaf herself and for me this is really cool - every deaf child should have the chance to see a deaf audiologist! - she understands the issues so much better than anyone else I've ever met and when I say things like "it's a kind of crackly, hissy thingy..." she immediately understands what I mean rather than looking at me like I'm totally losing it...
I know that it's not audiologists fault that their is limited access to coloured hearing aids - a number of audiologists I know really believe that deaf people should have the opportunity to pick what they want. It's the system were in and the annoying post code lottery situation which determines what service you receive.

I was thinking last night though... As far as I'm aware Selly Oak HARC where I go only hand out beige aids to adults. \As far as I understand one of the reasons they do this is because they believe the majority of adults want inconspicuous aids rather than in your face colours.
But what if, like me, you're skin is not beige... actually do you know anyone whose skin is beige? I thought not... My skin is olive coloured and many of my friends have dark skin... Based on the HARC thoughts of inconspicuous aids surely we should then be offered some other colour? One size (or in this case colour...) does not fit all as they say.

From where I'm sitting this position taken by many audiology departments that only those deaf adults (or in some places children too!) who have additional learning difficulties or mental health issues should be allowed colourful hearing aids is so silly its just... silly!

What about freedom of expression? What about confidence? Being 19 might make you an adult in the eyes of an audiologist but really I'm still a kid at heart! I want cool colours to show off and make my ears look great...

It's not like having coloured aids costs anything extra... I did check this out! It costs exactly the same amount to order coloured aids as it does to order plain, boring beige ones.

The other main reason I was given for not being allowed to have coloured aids was that if I changed my mind about "liking" the aids and wanted to change them (can I do that?!) the audiologist would be stuck with a pair of colourful aids and no one to give them to. (From the feedback I've had audiology could probably find a hundred new people to give those aids to, but maybe not...)
I have however come up with a solution - and it didn't take much thought! Why not give out beige aids for the 6 week "trial" period that everyone has with their new aids... Then, if the person likes the aids and feels they're working for them then swap them and order them a colourful pair! Problem solved :) Not rocket science really...

It is fun to decorate aids, and there is now an amazing facebook group called Pimping My Hearing aids and Cochlear Implants - UK where lots of parents and deaf teens show off their funky designs and share ideas on how to decorate. I've seen some more brilliant ideas and I'm amazingly proud of the group and what it's achieved!

However, it's not the same... Decorating aids can get expensive (6.50 for my latest nail foils..) and many people I'm sure would rather just have colourful versions of their aids.
I have to say that the post code lottery involved is also incredibly unfair... In Worcester their are colours but go up to Birmingham and suddenly no colours...

So, here's my plan!

I've made a petition which you can sign at the end of this post... Once a number of people have signed the petition I'll start sending off copies to audiology departments around my area asking them about coloured aids. It would be great if I number of people got involved to and tweeted, facebooked and emailed around the petition and later spoke to their audiologists too!

Thanks :)

Petition to make colourful hearing aids available from all audiology departments :)


  1. Just FYI, there are also colorful covers for aids. One is a latex ‘glove’ that helps resist moisture -

    Another company makes Skin-Its for CI’s, but I have not been able to find them for HA’s.


    1. thanks gerry! i did know about those (see older posts!) and also about ear gear which I think are really cool :) while they offer a DIY alternative I still think its important to have the option of colour on the main hearing aids too :)its easier - and cheaper! why should we have to pay for something that according to the NHS we should get for free...
      thanks for the comment!

  2. Interesting article!

    I'm not in the UK anymore so I was lucky to choose black and silver Phonak aids which I really like. Beige is absolutely horrible! :-)

    Ideally I think you should somehow be able to choose different colours for different occasions - for example a bright colour when you're partying and something more sombre for a funeral or interview. To that end, maybe snap-on covers (like for mobile phones) would be the best way to go. In the ideal world we'd all have two pairs (i.e. a pair that you're using and a spare pair for when they go wrong) - perhaps one pair could be beige and the spare pair a colour of your choice? Even in the UK I always managed to blag myself spares.

    An alternative (not possible yet as far as I know) would be to have left and right programs installed in both hearing aids. Then, if the two halves of each hearing aid were different colours, and if you could select L or R on each ear, you could swap between the colours as you please.

    By the way, I used to use Superseals with analogue hearing aids and they were fine but have not had success with them when used with digital aids. I think it has something to do with the feedback cancellation technology.

  3. I've alway been told, these are the aids you are having so tough luck. You are keeping them! That's maybe why my adult audiologists gives out coloured aids.