Hearing aids go bling
They have been getting more and more invisible for decades but a new 'pimped-out' generation of hearing aids are louder than ever.
Some hearing aid wearers are now calling attention to their devices with dangling jewellery, diamantes and brightly coloured sleeves.
A German designer has taken the trend to another level with a prototype for a hearing aid that has a hidden microphone in the type of ring worn inside a stretched-out earlobe.
Decorative devices have yet to fully make themselves heard in New Zealand and the National Foundation for the Deaf would like to see that change.
Foundation chief executive Louise Carroll wears two red beads on each of her hearing aids and said she had received some fascinating comments about the accessories.
Carroll would like to challenge New Zealand's fashion industry to design hearing aid accessories - particularly designs with a Kiwi flavour.
"It would be great to have designers from Fashion Week taking the opportunity to get people to realise that it's OK to wear hearing aids," she said.
"By personalising our hearing aids with adornment we show the world we are willing and able to communicate."
Carroll was delighted to have seen people at the International Federation for Hard of Hearing Conference in Norway wearing beads to brighten up and announce the presence of their hearing aids.
Some people still felt there was a stigma attached to wearing hearing aids, she said.
"I'm quite proud to wear my hearing aids - they are part of who I am.
"We do not want this to trivialise how difficult it can be living with a hearing impairment."
Hearing aid accessories were practical as well as carrying an element of fun, she said.
"These days hearing aids are not terribly visible so the beads make people aware that I'm wearing them and they will look at me when I'm talking to them."
Wellington audiologist and New Zealand Audiological Society past-president Janet Houghton said hearing aid 'bling' was a really positive idea.
"It's obviously not their key purpose but it's like anything from the clothes you wear to the car you drive you want them to look good."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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