9 min

Overcoming the Stigma of Hearing Loss

Discover 7 reasons to overcome common hearing loss stigmas and how they can lead to a more inclusive and innovative future!

Matt Sherman
Matt Sherman
Overcoming the Stigma of Hearing Loss

Whether you are experiencing hearing loss or know someone who is, there are many reasons you'll want to break up with old hearing loss stigmas– here are just seven for starters.

Understanding the Stigma of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a common condition affecting millions of people worldwide and 30 million in the United States alone. Yet, it is often misunderstood.

According to data from the National Institute on Deafness, only about 20% of all people with hearing concerns get help for their condition. In fact, it takes about seven years on average for individuals to pursue intervention once they start having hearing difficulty.

But why not seek help? Why do people refuse to wear a hearing aid?

The stigma of hearing loss can cause shame or embarrassment and prevent you from seeking help and support, and heavily ingrained hearing loss stigmas and treatment costs can hold you back.

Even though hearing-aid technology, design, and fit have evolved, and devices have gotten smaller and sleeker, many people experiencing hearing loss just like you get that feeling of “I’m getting old”, “Will people think that I’m disabled?” or “Will they hire me if they see me wearing a hearing aid?.”

Hearing loss, therefore, is a social challenge and should not be considered an individual problem because it's shaped by our social context.

That's why it's so important to address the hearing loss stigma.

Imagine how you and so many other people with hearing loss could benefit from proper care, inclusion, and community participation with the opportunity to explore and showcase your full potential.

This involves breaking the hearing loss stigma and recognizing that it is not a weakness but simply a part of the human experience that is manageable with the right tools and support.

Let’s change the dialogue around hearing loss, hearing aids and assistive technology and flip the stigma on its head.

7 Reasons to Overcome Hearing Loss Stigma

01. Hearing loss is a common condition

Hearing loss is not a rare or shameful condition but a part of physical health. 1 in 8 people in the United States aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing examinations.

Audiologist examines a man's ear using a handheld instrument.

02. Hearing aids and other assistive devices are power tools

You may think: “Hearing aids are a sign that I am getting old,” or “Everyone will see them and treat me differently.” But, with the right tools, you can enjoy life fully and participate in society. So instead of refusing to wear hearing aids,  wear them confidently, and if you ever catch someone else wearing them, more power to them!

Hearing aid device on man's ear.

03. Hearing loss does not define a person

People with hearing loss have unique talents, personalities, and life experiences. The limitation falls on those who cannot see past a condition.

An older man with both hands on his outer ears.

04. Communication is a two-way street

If you’re experiencing hearing loss, you may have difficulty hearing, but it doesn’t mean you can’t communicate effectively. From sign language to assistive listening devices to text-to-speech and speech-to-text apps, a broad range of options and communication tools are available. So if a hearing person is not embracing technological advancements they’re probably the ones staying behind.

Two women sit side by side with friendly smiles.

05. Hearing loss does not discriminate

Hearing loss can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. It's not a sign of weakness, old age or a lack of abilities. The onset can be due to various factors, including genetics, age, noise exposure, and certain medical conditions. It is not always preventable and is not the individual's fault.

Toddler wearing a hearing aid.

06. Social isolation can be harmful

The social stigma of hearing loss can lead some people with hearing loss to experience isolation and loneliness if they cannot participate fully in social situations, negatively affecting their mental and physical health. That’s why fostering an inclusive society through education, awareness, and advocacy is so important.

A young woman sits alone, eyes closed and interlocked fingers over her face.

07. Breaking the stigma benefits everyone

Removing the hearing aid stigma and assistive technology encourages people to seek help for their hearing loss earlier, which can prevent these negative health outcomes and promote healthier aging. It benefits those with hearing loss and their families, friends, and communities by providing more options and better technology for communication and hearing enhancement.

An older man with a hearing aid.

Embracing Hearing Loss and Living Confidently

We can create more inclusive and accepting communities by breaking the societal stigma towards hearing loss. For this, it’s crucial to advocate for support groups and hearing loss-friendly environments that allow individuals to feel valued and included in society.  

Looking Into The Future

When more people are willing to use hearing aids and other hearing technologies, it creates a larger market for these products, leading to increased innovation and improved accessibility.

There’s ongoing innovation and development happening not just in hearing aids and diagnostic tools but also in AI-powered technology to support communication and daily living.

We are excited to witness and lead the advances and innovations in the field of connectivity, which is driving new technology, including hearing aids and opportunities for accessible communication.

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