Hold my hand and walk with me.
We must break the back of social inequity;
We must empower every individual with a disability
To live with dignity in an inclusive society.
–William E. Lightbourne
Opaque has never been my favorite color when it comes to accessories, I’m more of a bright color, in your face, no mistaking my attention-seeking-intentions, sort of accessory wearer. However the clear-ish, cloudy opaque color has been the suggested color choice for my hearing aid mold for the past 20 years. The prevailing thought amongst audiologists must be that people who wear hearing aids probably want to look inconspicuous and pretend like they are not there. Who are we kidding? A little color matching will not detract from the obvious technological device in or around the ear. It’s about as obvious as cubic zirconia earrings. Furthermore, being hearing impaired is one aspect of my selfhood that shan’t be hidden, but rather incorporated into my selfhood, and thus my fashion.
Behold! No longer will my hearing aids continue to serve as an awkward and timid conversation starter amongst strangers. It is now one of my most expensive, personalized accessories, (insurance doesn’t cover jewelry like this), my neon orange mold will invite conversation and beckon curiosity. This sophisticated device is synced with my iPhone and other bluetooth enabled devices, it allows me to rely a bit less on lip-reading, and affords me the bonus of having the ability to push a button to switch to hearing John Legend’s smooth voice while I stare and nod and pretend to listen to you. The neon orange color matches the color of my junior prom dress that I loved so much…form has never met its fashion match quite like this! Aerodynamically, a bumble bee isn’t supposed to be able to fly, but it doesn’t know that, so it flies anyway. Hearing aids don’t know that society is still coming to grips with inclusivity by encouraging skin-tone colored features. But, hearing aids don’t know that, so society will just have to adjust.
American Girl Doll, Build A Bear, and BuzzFeed (#ToyLikeMe) are hip to the societal shift of taking the shame out of disability by designing colorful, pimped out accessories, and fostering a sense of inclusion one doll at a time. Phonak, Beltone, Miracle-Ear, Oticon – it’s your turn! Capitalize on this niche market, create a catchy slogan, contact me if you’d like; I’d volunteer to be your model (role-model, that is).
The bottom line is; my hearing aids are cooler than your hearing aids.