Hearing aids do not get nearly the attention that they deserve. This may be due to the outstanding cost and the fact that many health insurance companies fail to provide health insurance to cover the costs. While there has been an upward trend of health insurance companies providing insurance to cover the cost of hearing aids for young children (typically no older than 16), a majority of health insurance providers still insist that hearing aids are an optional device to be worn by those with a hearing loss. They fail to recognize it as being a necessity.
However, as an individual with profound (greater than 90dB) hearing loss in both ears, I beg to differ. I was diagnosed with high frequency hearing loss when I was two years old, and got my first pair of hearing aids when I was three years old. Over the years I have worn several different styles of hearing aids from various brands including both in-the-ear and in-the-ear styles that varied from analog and digital technologies. While my hearing aids may have changed over the years one thing remained the same: my belief that hearing aids are essential for those with hearing loss. They are a necessity. This is what makes hearing aids so essential:
- Hearing aids provide power. Sure, they may look like tiny, insignificant devices, but inside that device is many intricate parts that combine together to form high quality, clear sound to those who would otherwise not have it. There are many medical manufacturers who now specialize in making medical applications and parts for to be used for this purpose. These parts are made from the finest materials and stringed together with extreme caution that allows sounds to be amplified. And the best news is they are only getting better over time. Take for instance the new SUMO hearing aid which aims to provide more support for people with low frequency hearing. This is a revolutionary device that will allow individuals with low-frequency hearing to gain more power and to hear things they couldn’t before.
- Hearing aids improve speech. Being hearing impaired means struggling to hear the way words are supposed to sound. This means that you may struggle with your speech. For years my speech has been a bit of a challenge and I attended speech therapy classes all throughout grade school. When is my speech the worst? When I don’t have my hearing aids in. With my hearing aids sounds are greatly amplified which allows me to hear the words I am saying and to speak much more clearly. It also helps me to adjust the volume of my voice. Without my hearing aids I tend to talk louder or “shout” because I can’t hear myself well enough to know how loud I am actually talking. Hearing aids help me to speak on the same level as those around me.
- Hearing aids provide clarity. Many hearing impaired individuals struggle with clarity. They may hear sounds, but they sound distorted or as if they were trying to hear through a clogged straw. This can make it extremely difficult to communicate with others as you might only hear bits and pieces of what they are saying or you may mishear their words. I myself have almost no clarity without my hearing aids. Without my hearing aids I have to rely very heavily on lip-reading. Have you ever heard of the Bad Lip Reading YouTube channel? That’s what my life would be like every day without my having my hearing aids to lean on for clarity. Talk about awkward!
- They provide safety. We like to think of the world as being a safe place, but in reality we are always faced with danger. Whether it be threats from others, or even just dangers from other forces such as automobiles, we should always take extra precaution of our surroundings. This is made easier by people who can hear. Sure, you can rely on your eyes, but your eyes can’t always see everything. Hearing aids give hearing impaired individuals extra support and the ability to hear things even when they can’t see them. This makes their lives a bit safer even for simpler tasks like crossing the street.
My hearing aids are very powerful devices that have become an essential part of who I am. Whenever I have to go without them (in instances when they need repairs, for example) I struggle to do even the simplest of tasks. My hearing aids have helped me to live a fulfilled and successful life. In short, they have improved my overall quality of life. They may be viewed as an optional device to many, but for me and most of my fellow hearing aid users, we know otherwise.
Kimberly Erskine is an avid writer and blogger from Sewell, NJ. She was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears at the age of 2 and has been wearing hearing aids since she was 3. She enjoys using her writing skills in ways that can educate and inform people about hearing loss as well as inspire those in the HOH/Deaf community.