Do you wear vision aids?
You might, a lot of people do.
But do you call them vision aids?
Of course not, that’s ridiculous. You call them glasses. To call them “vision aids” directly links the wearer to their impairment. No one wants to label themselves in terms of their impairment by using a word that inherently requires them to recognize that impairment. Instead, most prefer to use a nice, neutral word like glasses (or maybe “spectacles” if you’re a tad snooty). This allows the wearer to acknowledge that they require a device to see, but without directly acknowledging their reduced vision abilities.
When we use the phrase “hearing aids,” we do several things. We conjure up images of bulky, flesh-coloured outdated devices associated with our grandparents. We outrightly acknowledge the user’s impairment and their need to be “aided.” Walkers aren’t walking aids, wheelchairs aren’t mobility aids, so why should hearing devices be any different?
So what is the answer?
The solution I propose may seem rather silly and simplistic at first, but it has a strong example to look to; let’s just call them H.A.s (literally just AYch – AYs). In my experience, very few people refer to cochlear implants by their full name (whether that’s out of laziness or a different factor, I’m not sure). Instead, they are simply termed C.I.s. Its a great way of dancing around directly acknowledging the individual’s impairment and subsequent need for a medical device while still using a unique, easily recognizable term that all professionals and patients can understand. I think this simple change could make wearing the devices more acceptable by younger users and allow them to be less defined by their disability in the eyes of their peers.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know below!