A Little Bit of Background [en]

As the founding editor of Phonak’s community blog “Open Ears” (now part of “Hearing Like Me“) I contributed a series of articles on hearing loss between 2014 and 2015. Here they are.

My hearing has been stable since birth, and chances are it will probably stay that way until age-related hearing loss catches up with me. I was fitted reasonably late in life, at 38 (two years ago) and so my interest for audiology and hearing loss in general is quite fresh. I’m a bit of a geek, so I did my homework when I was fitted, but hearing loss wasn’t really a big part of my life growing up (I considered it a detail), and as my loss is mild to medium I clearly approach things from another angle than people with severe hearing loss or profound deafness. Hence the variety of contributors that we are currently getting in touch with for this blog.

Steph on Phonak roof

I’m aware the field of hearing loss/audiology is fraught with occasions to say things the wrong way, so I hope you’ll forgive me (and gently let me know) if I blunder into an issue with big uninformed boots. I’ll do my best not to, of course!

I’d also like to say a few words about my involvement in Phonak’s community blog project, and what I’ll be doing here. I started blogging a long time ago, in 2000. My blog Climb to the Stars is still active, and in it I write about pretty much anything that catches my interest, from futile to serious. I’ve been a “social media professional” since 2005, though I hate the term (“social media” didn’t exist back then). Over the years I’ve worked with  companies big and small to get them started with blogging or social media, manage their blogs, or assist them in establishing relationships with bloggers that go beyond “let’s put you on our mailing list and send you press releases and goodies every now and again”.

A few months ago Vincent and I met up to discuss a possible collaboration. Phonak had been thinking about setting up a community-oriented blog, and they were looking for somebody who had expertise in blogging and and also had direct experience with hearing loss. Based in Switzerland, in addition to that. That would be me!

We kicked things off early this year and as you can see we’re now in the process of getting the blog off the ground, defining its direction, and getting people inside and outside of Phonak interested in contributing. In addition to my blog-editor-in-chief role, I will be writing articles based on my personal experience and reflexions, and also what I’m discovering about audiology and hearing loss through my contacts with Phonak.

I’m really excited about this project, first because it’s a rather large-scale blogging project on a topic that is of personal interest to me, and second because of the role we are hoping this blog will play in the relationship between the company and “the outside world”, if I may put it like that. We find the vision behind Microsoft’s Channel 9 inspiring, and I’m really looking forward to opening the doors to passionate Phonak employees so that you can read what they have to share directly.

If you have questions about the blog or ideas, or if you’d like to contribute, feel free to get in touch!

Similar Posts:

Hearing Aids Can Look Cool [en]

As the founding editor of Phonak’s community blog “Open Ears” (now part of “Hearing Like Me“) I contributed a series of articles on hearing loss between 2014 and 2015. Here they are.

When I was fitted nearly two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that hearing aids now came in quite a range of fun colours and textures. Blue, pink, metallic silver, green, you name it. Quite a change from the plastic skin-tones that where the only option available at the time of my first (failed) fitting many years ago as a teenager. Needless to say, I picked pink — my trademark colour — and I’m never shy of showing them off around me.

I discovered more recently that many people go a step further with their hearing aids and implants, decorating them with stickers and gems, nail foils, shoe charms, you name it. The results are fantastic! Vincent regularly shows off his favourites on the Phonak Facebook page. Here are some of those I particularly like.

Pink purple hearing aid with charm Flower Implants Flower on hearing aid Cascading Peace Hearing Aid Charm

Housekeeping note: I’ve done my best to link to what seems like the original source of each photo, click on them to see!Steph's Pink Hearing Aid

This trend reminds me of something I heard Helga (Hack & Hear blog) say in her 28c3 conference talk: the industry tendency is to try and make hearing aids as invisible as possible, whereas she — like others — would prefer them more visible, so that people immediately notice that she is a hearing aid user. Helga also mentioned that there is very little hacking being done on hearing aids, because they are expensive, we need them, and opening them up voids warranties.

Turquoise hearing aid tubes

As I see it, however, people who pimp their aids and implants are actually a variety of hackers — appearance, design, and style hackers. Pretty cool and inspiring.

Can’t get enough? Lipreading Mom has a super collection on her “Show Me Your Ears” page.

Similar Posts: