Wikipedia describes community as a sense of positive belonging. It sounds inviting, good and almost a little warm. But what happens when hearing impairments and hearing aids are linked to something broken, stressful and negative? What is required then to come in from the cold?
Relationships with other people, the feeling of belonging to a group and having someone who cares about you, are basic psychological and biological needs that all people have Baumeister & Leary, The Need to Belong: ”Desire for Interpersonal Attachments as a Fundamental Human Motivation”, and the feeling of positive belonging is something that I, with a hearing loss since birth, have thought a lot about. The desire to be seen as an asset and somebody who inspires others. In Liz Adams Lyngbäck’s doctoral dissertation Liz Adams Lyngbäck. ”Experiences, networks and uncertainty: parenting a child who uses a cochlear implant”, s.10. Stockholm University. 2016., I found a sentence that summed up that essence so well: ”In case they become someone not like us”. Because how do we look at children who do not become like us? What are the deep and existential questions we need to address, and why are they so important?
What is the society’s view of hearing loss if over 34% HRF 2017. of 1.5 million Swedish inhabitants choose not to use their hearing aids? What message are we sending out, when the newest hearing aids on the market are described as small, discreet and invisible or when the National Association of the Hearing Impaired Stockholm (HRF Sthlm) in its campaign ”Världens tystaste revolution”, HRF Sthlm, 2020. chooses a tattoo behind the ear with the text ”Out of order”?
If this is the world we want our children to rely on, where hearing loss is something that should be invisible and seen as a defect, then why are we surprised when they take off and hide their hearing aids? Instead, we should see the whole, that children just like adults, want to be part of the community. If we see hearing impairments as something negative, the entrance ticket will be to remove that part of ourselves. It is far too heavy burden for our children to carry.
Society should upgrade instead. Because if the latest version tells us that the most successful thing to do is not to be seen as a hearing impaired or not to use your hearing aids even if you need to, then isn’t that just paradoxical? How can that mindset ever be successful?
The success factors should be to make and create stylish hearing aids in many different colors! To see the benefit of the inhabitants being proud, confident and aware of their hearing, their visual strengths and strategies. To see how a visual and acoustic school- & work environment of the highest possible qualitative level benefits everyone in society.
Time to come in from the cold. Wearing our hearing aids.
Author, photographer and pedagogue with extra qualifications in deaf / hearing. I have a bilateral, sensorineural hearing loss since birth. I am Bilingual and I use spoken Swedish and Swedish sign language.
|↑1||Baumeister & Leary, The Need to Belong: ”Desire for Interpersonal Attachments as a Fundamental Human Motivation”|
|↑2||Liz Adams Lyngbäck. ”Experiences, networks and uncertainty: parenting a child who uses a cochlear implant”, s.10. Stockholm University. 2016.|
|↑4||”Världens tystaste revolution”, HRF Sthlm, 2020.|