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CONCLUSION

The aim of this study was to discover and clarify the attitudes of hearing impaired children and their parents to the use of colourful hearing aids. Despite the traditional view that hearing aids should be as inconspicuous as possible to minimise any negative prejudices from the wider hearing community, figures supplied by hearing aid manufacturers would suggest that the use of coloured aids is increasing among children of all ages. Although the number of children and parents taking part in this study was quite small, the children were overwhelmingly in favour of the aids for use both at school and at home and almost three quarters of the parents also felt positively towards them. Some parents expressed concern that the high profile visibility of the aids might contribute to teasing or bullying but the comments of the children would tend to disprove this. The remarks of the parents in this study coincide with the findings of previous researchers (Ross 1996, Green 1999). Although many are positive in their support for their children and their choice of aids, others still feel the need to keep the disability hidden by concealing the aids as much as possible.

Silverman and Larginís findings from 1993 regarding the change in attitude of the peers of hearing impaired children suggest a heightened awareness of and more positive attitude towards disability through education. Todayís more liberal, tolerant and understanding attitudes towards others with a disability would appear to be contributing to a reduction in the feeling of stigma attached to hearing aid wear. The bright colours and transparent casings of modern hearing aids assist in their acceptance by others by emphasising their fashionable, "high tech" appearance and reducing the comparison with hearing aids worn by the elderly.

None of the children who took part in this study had worn their coloured aids for longer than 5 years and none had returned them in favour of the traditional beige ones. It was impossible to discover whether this is no more than a short term

fashion trend or whether some children experience negative reactions to the aids from their peer group. Further research, along the lines of Silverman and Klees, where the views of the hearing peers are sought, could be useful in assessing the attitudes to the coloured aids among teenagers. It will be interesting to discover whether the children continue to wear conspicuous, coloured aids when they leave school and enter the adult world.


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