Glasses, like hearing aids, are a sign of some degree of physical disability. So why is it that glasses are much more acceptable to wear in today’s society? Why are some people still ashamed to wear hearing aids, even though they are serving a similar purpose to glasses? Audicus takes a look at some factors in the acceptance of glasses over hearing aids, and the prevalence of hearing aid stigmas.
Glasses: They’re everywhere!
One of the most important factors that make wearing glasses so acceptable in media and society is the sheer number of people that wear them. 6 out of 10 people in the developed world have vision impairment and wear some sort of corrective lenses—that means more people need glasses than those that don’t! Vision-impaired people are a majority on the planet, rather than the minority, and society tends to cater to the majority. Perhaps due to the massive worldwide need, glasses are a lot easier to purchase than hearing aids, and they are markedly less expensive. More people are likely to spend money on glasses, which can be less than a hundred dollars, than on hearing aids, which are pricey pieces of technology.
Hearing aid stigmas
There are a number of stigmas about hearing aid that glasses-wearers seem to have mostly overcome in the past few decades. One of the biggest hearing aid stigmas centers on age—many people who wear hearing aids do so later in life, because the majority of cases of hearing loss is age-related. Hearing aids are often seen as a negative sign of aging, whereas glasses are not. People of all ages wear glasses, from toddlers to centenarians. Although a surprising amount of children suffer from hearing loss (nearly 15%!), hearing aids are still thought of as only for senior citizens.
Another hearing aid stigma is about the way they look: the idea that hearing aids don’t look good, or make the wearer look bad. Glasses have mostly avoided this problem in recent years due to their omnipresence, but glasses have also become a cool fashion accessory. Even people who do not need corrective lenses are wearing glasses now! Manufacturers are trying to battle this hearing aid stigma by making smaller and less visible hearing aids. Many hearing aids now can barely be seen, because they hide amongst hair and use much tinier equipment than the old “beige banana” hearing aids of the past. Some hearing aid companies, including Audicus, are trying to make hearing aids more of a fashion statement like glasses by making trendy, fun patterns for hearing aids.
The future of glasses and hearing aids
Technology and lifestyle changes could mean that in the near future, more people than ever are wearing hearing aids. iPods and other technologies that require headphones are potentially damaging our hearing more than in the past. If more people wear hearing aids, they could eventually become as commonplace as glasses and overcome all the hearing aid stigmas that currently exist…anything is possible!
By: Elena McPhillips