This could be a rambler, seeing as how on this website I’m not facing the constraints one must deal with in the pages of Hearing Review Products, so I will try my best to keep this succinct and focused.

So let me cut right to the chase: I think I had an epiphany at AudiologyNOW! 2009. I say “think” because I’ve really never had an epiphany before, so I can’t be sure. But it sure felt like one. It happened April 2 at the Ear Technology Corporation booth on the floor of the Dallas Convention Center, standing there with Dan Schumaier, the company’s president, as he told me about his new Clik hearing instrument.

The epiphany was this: as Dan explained its features, I wanted one—not because I need a hearing aid. No, I wanted one very much in the same way as one might want the hottest new gadget, such as a new iPod or flat-screen television or mobile phone or fancy-combination DVD player/espresso machine.

It didn’t matter that at this stage of my mid-life crisis, I don’t have much in the way of a hearing loss. I literally and veritably craved one. Coveted it. In full impulse mode, I wanted to buy it right then and there and put it on and wear it “out of the store” like a kid with a new pair of sneakers.

Yeah, I know that’s not how these things work.

But before you go thinking this is any kind of endorsement, please understand that is so not the case. I had similar reactions during the convention learning about the new instruments that debuted, including Sonic Innovations’ Sonic Touch, Starkey’s S Series, Phonak’s Exelia, Resound’s Be, Siemens’ Motion, Audina’s flx, Unitron’s Passport, Rexton’s Gem, Bernafon’s Verite, Oticon’s Hit, and more.

See, it’s not about the who and the what that are as important as why I felt the way I did. It just so happened that my somewhat compulsive craving became comprehensible at the Ear Tech booth—it all Clik’d if you will. It wasn’t just that I found the unit tempting. What I consider more surprising and remarkable is that it charmed me completely without the stigma long attached to hearing aids-and I think that’s worth examining.

Perhaps I’m making too big a deal of my moment of clarity, but I can’t help but extrapolate in wonder if we are shifting to a place where hearing aids are more readily accepted and acceptable? Certainly, it’s not hard to see that we’re already operating alongside countless of our fellow citizens whose ears are increasingly and comfortably adorned with headsets and earbuds and wireless Bluetooth devices. And certainly as Baby Boomers continue to age, there will be millions more of us with impaired hearing than ever before, and demanding of solutions. Another absolute is that hearing aid manufacturers will continue to produce those solutions in continually sophisticated and technologically advanced products that are increasingly stylish and user-friendly.

So in my one small step, forgive me for taking a giant leap that ponders if those factors of acceptance and inevitability and appeal might make it possible for audiologists to one day start seeing patients who have the unrepentant enthusiasm I had there in Dallas. Instead of a reluctance for a burdensome, stigmatized device, will such resistance and reticence eventually be replaced by rapture as would-be wearers recognize hearing aids as useful and tempting? Something they flat-out positively want, rather than negatively need?

I know I did.

Will Campbell
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