Day 6

The main thing about blogging, I suppose, is in regularly putting your thoughts in order. And the key word here is regularly. So that you can come back later and see the timeline of your research and get shocked by how stupid you were in the beginning. This is why people do it, I guess. But as it is my first experience (I can always find an excuse for failure), I failed in the regularity.

So now, when I’m writing this, the information I have and consequently my own judgments on the subject are quiet different from those in the beginning of the research. The “silence” thing still didn’t give me any worth mentioning observations. It makes me nervous though. Maybe it’s also an output? Well, I don’t know.

Meanwhile I found myself more and more involved in the topic of Deafness and Deafhood. I never realized how rich and diverse the Deaf culture is. How beautiful and expressive the sign language is. And not because I’m too narrow-minded. We, “hearies”, usually don’t know anything about it.

Deep in this context I’m travelling on a train in the south of Germany. The woman next to me is reading an extremely yellow magazine (pop stars, local Kardashians, etc.). And there is a full spread investigation about Swedish queen Silvia and her Nobel ceremony outfit with highly zoomed in photos of her ears (WTF?!). When I came home I started googling it. Curiously enough, I could find similar articles only in German. I refuse to make any conclusions on this one. Maybe, they just miss monarchy. So here the author describes the fabulous look of the queen, even though highly skilled paparazzi could notice a tiny hearing aid in her ear. The headline is pretty puzzling too : “DISCREETLY HIDDEN: YOUR LITTLE SECRET AT THE NOBEL FESTIVAL” (according to google translate). And this one is far less yellowish than the magazine I saw first.

But why is this even discussed? Why the queen wanted to hide it in the first place? Hardly because of the lack of self-confidence. What is the role of the design of the device itself in this situation?

I’m a designer, so of course I focus on design. Medical engineers say that if they were not restrained by the small size of the technology, they could make a quality better. But the main requirement for hearing aid is still to make it as invisible as possible (well, that’s what I heard).

If the device is designed to be hidden, does it mean that a wearer need to hide it? If you’re forced to conceal something that is part of your routine, does it make you feel uncomfortable or even ashamed of it? And how does it affect other people you meet? When you see, that a person is hiding something, your politeness tells you not to notice it. As a result “hearies” have an almost perfect excuse for their own ignorance (when I say they, I also include myself, of course). And who prescribes these requirements : the d/Deaf or the hearing? This causes a lot of troubles, besides ignorance itself. When we meet someone, who is D/deaf for the first time, we freeze, don’t know how to communicate and make the intersection of the two “worlds”even more stressful. Many just give up further interaction.

And how can we collaborate if we don’t have sufficient knowledge and tools for a meaningful conversation? There is a huge temptation to assume that changing the design can save the world. Obviously the problem is far more complex. But I think it is a good place to start.

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