Customising hearing aids and cochlear implants

Posted on: June 22, 2012

Hearing aids should blend in with the wearers hair (not skin colour) and have been available for many years in a range of brown and grey shades. For many adult wearers who don’t want other people to see them this is great, but makes no sense to me why the NHS continues to market beige as the standard colour. As a red-head myself I’ve always wondered what colour I’d go with if or when my hearing starts to go? But beige it doesn’t have to be and the good news is that all of the current NHS range is available in a range of colours – from bright primary colours, to softer pastels, metallics, and a few with designs such as animal print. All the cochlear implants are also available in a range of colour/design options. So if beige isn’t your child’s thing (and let’s face it, whose is?) ask your audiologist about the range of colours available for their model. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t, but if you can’t get coloured hearing aids from your audiologist, or you want to go one stage further to really customise yours then here are some other ideas to think about…

  • Customise your earmoulds – next time you have impressions taken for new moulds ask what colours are available. They are available with solid colours, marble effects, transparent with glitter, and with logos/pictures inside such as your favourite football team or television cartoon character.
  • Add removable charms or tube riders to the earmould tubing.
  • Skinit covers are available for Cochlear’s Freedom and N5 processors, and Advanced Bionics’ Harmony processor. Advanced Bionic’s waterproof Neptune also has a range of colour options.
  • Covers are available for Cochlear’s N5 cochlear implant processors
  • Ear Gear come in a range of colours, are fully removable and help protect the aids against moisture and dirt.
  • Use stickers, diamante, and nail art to decorate the hearing aid. Some of the manufacturers give away sheets of stickers the perfect size for their hearing aids. Alternatively you can decorate them yourself. Here I have to credit an amazingly creative group of parents and hearing aid / cochlear implant wearers who share their designs and ‘how to do it’ on this Facebook page – go and check them out!

That’s about it but before I go a quick word of warning! Almost all the audiologists I have met would have absolutely no problem with parents customising their child’s hearing aids with stickers or charms as described above. But make sure that you only use double-sided tape or stickers. Remember to take care that any parts in the casing that musn’t be covered aren’t, such as additional microphone ports or direct audio input contacts. NEVER glue anything directly onto the casing, or use paints or nail polish. Remember that the hearing aids are a long-term loan to you from the NHS and are not your property – so take care not to damage them or you may invalidate any warranty the aid has and/or may be charged for it’s repair if the NHS considers the damage negligent.

What are you waiting for – get out there and bling those hearing aids!

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