By Peter Slobin, M.Sc.
How do we inspire someone with a hearing loss to get help?
As a hearing care professional, I often ask myself this question. It’s been estimated that only about one in three people who need hearing aids today actually get them. Sadly, for many people, good hearing health is not a high priority.
Companies that manufacture hearing aids do their best to promote the benefits and technological advances of the devices they produce, and most of us in the field promote good hearing on our websites and through advertising. However, it’s not easy to sell people on good hearing health and hearing aids because of misinformation, financial considerations, stigma and difficulty accepting hearing loss.
I believe that if people understood why they should take action to help themselves, these barriers to good hearing healthcare could be removed—sometimes a slight change in perception is all that’s needed.
My passion about inspiring people with hearing loss to get help led me to write a book called Thinking About Hearing Aids? Ten Great Reasons to Take the Leap to Better Hearing. The book is 62 pages—long enough to communicate the essentials, but short enough to make it easy to read quickly. In my audiology practice, I distribute the book to people who inquire about hearing aids and to my clients who want their friends or family with hearing loss to read the book. I also distribute the book to physicians’ offices and other locations where the book will be helpful.
The book is meant to convincingly show people that hearing aids are worth pursuing because they significantly enhance quality of life and health. Hearing aids provide people who wear them with several types of benefits—from enhancing relationships, to increasing confidence, to connection with the world around them. In addition, this book is for families of people with a hearing loss, who are also very much affected.
I wrote this book for a number of reasons: First, I enjoyed taking the most relevant information available, along with the most significant experiences I’ve had with clients, and presenting these in a simple, concise, inspirational, and entertaining way. I wanted this book to make a difference in the lives of those with hearing loss, by alleviating their fears and showing them the multiple benefits of hearing aids, beyond the obvious.
Second, I wanted to educate the public, since most people do not have a true picture of hearing technology and don’t realize how much hearing care professionals can do to help.
Finally, I wanted to inspire people and show them that they are not alone. I wrote about the experiences of some of the people I have helped with hearing aids; I also presented a list of well-known personalities who have been fitted with hearing aids, as I see them as role models for others.
I wanted the book to hold people’s attention and to be straightforward enough so they could finish reading it in one or two sittings. So, together with my editor, Sherry Hinman, I endeavored to make the writing approachable and engaging. Interspersed throughout the text are quotes about one of our greatest and most admired faculties—something we should all strive to improve—the ability to listen. Listening, I believe, is the highest goal of good hearing.
Hearing care professionals have a special purpose—to make a difference by bringing more joy into the lives of people with hearing loss.
I used images throughout the book to keep people engaged in a playful manner, and it was a great experience to meet with the cartoonist Ted Couling at a local Starbucks to discuss the cartoons and illustrations he created for the book.
In addition to their entertainment value, cartoons can be a powerful way to address uncomfortable issues and bring new awareness. They can move through barriers and help create change. Coming to terms with hearing loss is often difficult, and can take years. It was my hope that the cartoons would not only entertain, but also help people lovingly laugh at themselves as they identify with the characters who have a hearing loss. In this way, humor is used as a vehicle to inspire people with hearing loss to help themselves by seeking out solutions.
As a profession, we need to keep spreading the word about how life-enhancing hearing solutions can be. Thanks to manufacturer research and development, technology is always improving, allowing us to provide constantly improving solutions for hearing loss, year after year.
I hope this book inspires hearing care professionals to continue to express to the public what is best about our profession and the services we provide.
Peter Slobin, M.Sc., is an audiologist and the owner of Southwest Hearing Clinic in Surrey, B.C. Hearing care professionals can order a free copy of Thinking About Hearing Aids? at ThinkingAboutHearingAids.com.