It’s no secret that I’m not a Phonak customer, despite being the editor-in-chief of this blog. It could be argued that this is a good or a bad thing, but right now I’m actually not convinced that it’s all that important.
Anyway, since I started working with Phonak, it’s been (kindly) joked about that something needed to be done about my hearing aids. To tell the truth, I’m very happy about my current hearing aids, and not just because of their colour. I like the sound quality, I like the way my voice sounds (important! I speak a lot!), I even find their operating noise soothing. They allow me to understand people so much better and have really changed my life.
The beginning of my work as editor for this blog also included a crash course in familiarising myself with the “hearing-impaired” community. As a reasonably recent hearing aid user with mild to moderate loss, I had pretty much dealt with my hearing all by myself until then.
When I did my frustrating trial of the M-DEX two years ago, I kind of gave up on using my hearing aids with my phone. I have a mute programme for when I need to put the phone to my ear (I have open tips), but most of the time, I take my hearing aids out, put my earbuds in, and crank up the volume.
I can’t believe there isn’t a simple “equalizer” software or application for my phone which I could feed my audiogram to and which would then amplify the frequencies I need. Clearly it wouldn’t be as good as a proper hearing aid, but I’m sure it would help a bit. If you know more about why this isn’t done, I’m all ears (!).
A few weeks ago, Vincent sent me a link to the Mimi launch announcement. It’s worth taking a few minutes to watch the video below:
The other day I was chatting with my podologist (who is also a friend) and the topic of hearing aids and hearing loss came up.
She was surprised to learn i had hearing aids (we’re not close, so it’s understandable she didn’t know), and quickly started telling me about how many of her clients are elderly people who are hard of hearing. She said she often had to repeat things and had made it a habit of speaking loudly.
A complaint I’ve heard a few times lately in the hearing loss support groups I hang out in is that “full-hearing” people resist making the effort to talk to us in such a way that we can understand them. Or they do sometimes, but then forget. I feel a lot of frustration around this for some people, sometimes translated into judgements about the other “not caring” or “not paying attention” or “being offended”.
This reminds me a little, in a “through the looking-glass” way, of how we “less-hearing” people are sometimes accused of “not paying attention”, “not making an effort”, or “being distracted”.
It was last week. I guess a two-year love story with my aids is not too bad, so it had to happen someday.
I was working in my office when a loud alarm-like sound went off. Now, in certain parts of the world this is habitual, but not in this quiet little part of Switzerland. We don’t have house and car alarms going off twenty times a day (we don’t have house or car alarms most of the time). Ambulances and police cars sometimes go by but they won’t use their sirens unless they need them.
We looked at each other in the office, and I hopped out of the ground-level window to investigate. Was this going to involve calling the police?
Since I started spending so much time thinking about hearing loss and hearing technology, one of the things I’ve obviously been thinking about it social stigma related to hearing loss. Stigma is immediately cited as the reason people wait so long to get fitted, and the reason for which “invisible” is a great quality for a hearing aid. (Not everybody agrees, though.)
In an attempt to wrap my head around some of these issues, I’ve been trying to make parallels between eyes and ears, glasses and hearing aids. Why is “not hearing well” considered so differently from “not seeing well”? Saying “there’s more stigma” is not really an answer. Social stigma comes from somewhere, right?
With the early days of hearing aid wonder hearing behind me, I sometimes find myself forgetting them. The other day, it happened again. I left home and realised just in time that I didn’t have my ears with me.
I blame my morning shower. I have to wait until my ears are completely dry to put my hearing aids in. By that time I’m up and about and out of my “waking up and getting started” routine. What is the best solution to this? I definitely haven’t found it yet.
Since my last visit to the Phonak headquarters I keep mulling on the conversation I had with Solange about fitting and pricing strategy. We know hearing aids come in different price ranges, and the benefits they provide to the wearer change as you move up in technology. These variations in price are not isolated to a specific piece of hardware or software, but reflect the overall experience the wearer receives when using them in more complex listening environments. And that, ultimately, is what we pay for, as hearing technology users: a better life experience.