Newsflash! Hearing Aids Are Cool!
A long time a go in a place far, far away, a certain class of people were once not so affectionately known as retards. Now, far more affectionately, if a bit sterile-sounding, they're known as mentally-impaired/challenged/disabled. As well, there once was a class of people known as cripples. These very same people are now known as the handicapped.
In the 19th century, doctors coined the terms midget and dwarf to describe people whose height was other than normal or proportional. These height-challenged (oops, did we just make up a new one?) are now known as little people. Doctors even threw around the terms moron, imbecile and idiot to describe people of varying (and low) IQ levels. Now, not so much.
Which, for the purposes of this story, all brings us full circle to the innocuous hearing aid, that small device placed in one's ear to help them hear better. While some of the aforementioned name changes certainly needed to be made, one wonders if, now, a hearing aid really needs to be known as a "personal communication assistant." A company called Phonak thinks so and has dubbed their new line of multi-colored devices as such.
Hearing Mojo takes a look at the changing world of hearing aid marketing and device manufacturers' seemingly new strategy of hipifying the lowly audio device. With ads ranging from a shirtless buff dude to a man in a bee keeper outfit, one hearing aid maker, Audeo has taken a left down fashionista lane hoping to remove any stigma people might associate with wearing a hearing aid. The company has released its hearing aid line in 15 colors with names like Pinot Noir, Pure Passion and Green With Envy.
On one hand, the shift towards making hearing aids cool seems misguided since they aren't which isn't to imply there's something uncool about a person who wears them but they are what they are. It's as simple as that. Some things don't need the Dolce and Gabbana treatment. On the other hand, with the aging of baby boomers who, as a group, still don't want to admit they've become responsible adults, this hippication of the device makes perfect sense. It plays directly into the notion many 50 year olds still think they're still cool enough to regularly hang out with 25 year olds. It's all about youth, baby. Wisdom is for losers. And the lowly hearing aid makers are along for the ride.