Why hearing care is currently too risky – Part 2

Why hearing care is currently too risky - Part 2
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Why hearing care is currently too risky – Part 2

Curtis Alcock, founder of online hearing think tank Audira.info, with part one of his series on why some of the messages professionals send can turn people off accessing hearing care.

In Part 1 we looked at examples of messages traditionally found in hearing care and saw how they involve a psychological or social risk to responders that deter more people than they attract.

Now we look at the type of messages we should be presenting, and explain the thought processes behind them. Remember, for someone to respond to a message it must reduce (not increase) a risk for them, be consistent with how they want to be seen and make them look good in front of others. Each message presented here is based on the ones from Part 1, if you want to compare them.

Type of MessageWhat it says about responders
“If you ask to repeat, check your hearing’s complete.”We all like to feel “whole”, so hearing checks are presented here as a way to maintain that wholeness. By implication, not having our hearing checked leaves us unsettled. There’s a “itch” we need to scratch, and “asking to repeat” becomes a constant reminder of it. Only a hearing check can settle us.
“If you haven’t had your hearing checked in the last 5 years, how can you be sure you’re not mishearing?”Routine hearing checks are presented as “for everyone”. They’re not being used to stigmatise by “pointing a finger at someone who’s different” (older/deafer/more desperate), but instead they’re helping people to remain “normal” by preventing their risk of mishearing.
It’s about having certainty that you are who you think you are, and that you “look good in front of others” (which you wouldn’t if you were unknowingly mishearing).
Like the previous example we’ve added a trigger, time, that is universally applicable, whether someone notices a problem or not.
“We all know how important it is to keep our brain properly stimulated to decrease the risk of dementia. That’s why routine hearing and eye checks are so important.”The brain only has a limited number of ways to get information from the outside world, hearing being one of them. If the brain’s stimulation from the primary senses is allowed to weaken unchecked, the risk of dementia increases. For example social interaction may decrease and lead to social isolation, a known risk factor for dementia.
Notice we’re not saying “if you have hearing loss you have dementia”, which people can’t do anything about. Instead we’re providing a way for them to decrease the risk: continued brain stimulation through the senses. Of course that stimulation can be natural, or with the use of technology. The most important thing is the stimulation.
"It’s just being wise to check hearing like eyes."Anyone who gets their hearing checked is not portrayed as “deaf” or “abnormal”. They’re actually the sensible ones and we should all follow their example. The social proof? People who have their eyes checked are seen as sensible; why not hearing?

In all these examples we have made it easier psychologically and socially for someone to respond than not respond. Whether you use these examples or not, consider the thinking behind them and see how you might apply them to your own messages.

About Curtis

Curtis Alcock spent 12 years in design and marketing before making the transition into hearing care. He is founder of an online think tank for hearing called Audira.info which seeks to create a new social norm for hearing where the majority 1) respect their hearing, 2) do all they can to keep their hearing working at its best, 3) are mindful of the role their hearing plays in their own lives and in society, 4) and are confident that others will demonstrate practical understanding should a residual reduction in hearing put them at a disadvantage. His strategic and inclusive vision for hearing care, together with his work on attitudes towards hearing care and hearing technology, has taken him to Denmark, Canada, the United States and Brussels, where he addressed members of the European Parliament. In 2013 he won the Ida Institute’s award for best public awareness campaign.