From A Hearing Aid To A Cochlear Implant

Wearing hearing aids is as natural to me as wearing clothes. I was born hearing impaired and as far as I can remember I always had hearing aids; they were just an extension of my body. In my early kindergarten years it was a box I had to carry on my chest. Ear plugs were connected to it with long cables. In hot weather, this box became quite uncomfortable to wear. Surprisingly the amount of sweat pooling underneath it never caused it to short-circuit. Fortunately, as soon as I hit elementary school age, I was given behind-the-ear hearing aids. Those were a huge improvement and I have been wearing those types of hearing aids up until a few months ago.

My hearing loss has sadly been deteriorating over the years, up to a point where it was getting really hard to get the most out of a hearing aid. I had heard about cochlear implants earlier on, but back then I found them to be a rough technical solution. Like all technological inventions, however, cochlear implant technology is being continuously refined as time goes by.

As any technology has its limits, choosing to get a cochlear implant remained a hard decision. I have a good friend who got an implant a year ago and is showing remarkable performance, but that does not mean the same will occur with me or with anyone else.

The benefits of a cochlear implant vary greatly per person. It depends on your hearing history, your age, your language capabilities, your own personal investment, your social environment, and so forth. People who have lost hearing suddenly will profit more from a cochlear implant compared to those who were born with hearing difficulties. Deaf children with an implant will do better than deaf adults who just had a cochlear implant. If you are in an environment where sign language is the dominating communication tool, having a cochlear implant might provide some way to discern sounds, but will probably not improve oral communication. Continue reading “From A Hearing Aid To A Cochlear Implant”

Adapting Abroad: Languages, Hearing Loss, Neural Plasticity

Language differences today can be divisive and challenging – they can separate people and halt communication altogether. How can it be then, that at the same time, language can be a uniting front and bring millions of people together? Perhaps then it is not the language being “good” or “bad”, but the people trying to use the language as a tool of communication.
Continue reading “Adapting Abroad: Languages, Hearing Loss, Neural Plasticity”

What’s In a Name?

I was fascinated by an earlier post from Stephanie about language and the lack of an original name for hearing aids, something the aural equivalent of ‘glasses’ and ‘contact lenses’ (as opposed to ‘seeing aids’). I also enjoyed Steve’s post about ‘hearables’. It made me remember something from my childhood that I thought I’d share with you.

When I was a young child, I didn’t realise people were even saying ‘hearing aid’. Because of the accent, it sounded like they were saying ‘eerie naid’, which had no meaning other than that to me, it was the equivalent of glasses. Someone’s ‘eerie naid’ helped them hear in the same way their glasses helped them to see: such was the way of the world in my three or four year old mind.

Things were further confused by my beloved Nan saying, “Pass me my glasses so I can hear you.” Unbeknown to me, my Nan had bone conducting hearing aids attached to her glasses.

In my mind, her glasses looked something like these Cats eye glasses — but then again, it was a very long time ago!

Cats eye glasses by Paul Taylor
Photo credit: Paul Taylor website

I wonder if giving the ‘devices in our ears’ a new name would help with the image problem aids seem to have.

Hearing aids have long been associated with old age/ageing which is not good for those of us who need them at a much younger age — even in childhood.

How about a new name such as ‘Personal Amplifying Devices’? That’s what a hearing aid is really: a personal amplifying device. This would be the name equivalent of ‘contact lenses’.

When I don’t have my lenses in, I say, “I haven’t got my eyes in.” Is it that far a leap for those of us who say, “Wait, I just need to put my ‘ears’ in,” to say, “I just need to put my P.A.D.s in or my amplifiers in”?

I think not and you have to admit, it sounds a whole heap better than putting your ‘eerie naids’ in.