We know about the two most painful words in the hearing loss dictionary—never mind. But how about that SIX-word question that plagues every hearing aid or cochlear implant user: “Have you got your thing in?” This can set off a bad-hearing moment faster than you can say dead battery.
Now, if you are a hearing person reading this, you might think how nice that someone cares enough to make sure we’re connected with our devices. And it would be nice, IF that was the reason for asking. More often than not, they’re frustrated that we’re not getting it fast enough, in real time. Clearly there must be some technical problem—perhaps our hearing aid or CI batteries have died? Or maybe we deliberately aren’t using our things in order to irritate whoever we’re talking to? The question is supposed to tell us maybe we should do something about the situation?
It also shows a lack of understanding of what a hearing aid or cochlear implant can actually do. People with stellar hearing can be forgiven for believing that, with our CI or hearing aid, we should be able to hear without problem. I mean, technology fixes stuff, doesn’t it?
Hearing aid users quickly learn that devices don’t return us to perfect hearing—they neither completely correct nor cure hearing loss. They are called aids for a reason: they help us hear better through a system of technical processes. They are assistive, not corrective, devices. (What would we call devices that gave us 20/20 hearing, that reversed our hearing loss, restoring our missing frequencies and decibels so that we wouldn’t need to read lips and our brain could correctly locate sound and let us function in background noise? What would we call this miracle? Perhaps a hearing switch—you put it in, turn it on, and ta da! You operate like a hearing person. Or perhaps a hearing adaptor, like the piece that connects a phone to a power source. While the hearing adaptor is in your ear, there is no trace of deafness. I can dream….)