“Hearing Aids” is an ugly phrase

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 We conjure up images of bulky, flesh-coloured outdated devices associated with our grandparents.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!



  1. BBE · February 22, 2016

    Hearing aids is just fine by me. I suspect had glasses/spectacles been invented more recently they might well have been called vision aids or focusing aids. The names of each device are purely accidents of history.

    They are just small amplifiers that sit behind my ears and let me get on with my day. Just as my glasses sit on my nose and prevent me tripping over before I reach the door.

    If my 10 year old self had no quarms about walking into a class, that teased her for everything, sporting a new pair of glasses why should her 48 yo alter ego need to hide her hearing aids under her hair or behind a daft euphemistic name.

    And in any case HA is not a good idea because in some places it brings up the Aych/Haych pronunciation debate and that is beyond tedious


  2. feroxy · March 7, 2016

    I’m with you on this one. Something about the words “hearing aids” just comes off as very medical and disability oriented… with that being said, I’m not sold on the H.A.s idea though as that seems clunky too. Mind you anything is better than when my mother tells people that I “have aids”! I have requested that in future she always use the full term when telling people about my hearing loss 😯


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