creating a new social norm for hearing care

The Five Key Drivers Explained

This article provides an overview of the five drivers of attitudes to hearing care and how they relate to individuals and society. It is recommended that you read this article to familiarise yourself with the drivers before proceeding further.

Knowledge about Hearing

Research and discovery feed our knowledge and understanding of how hearing works, dispelling the myths of the past and providing insight into how to get the best out of our hearing. This operates on a personal level, a societal level, and an industrial level.

For example, on a personal level, when we realise that intense noise permanently damages hearing, we are more likely to protect our hearing. On a societal level, the same knowledge inspires legislation regarding health and safety. On an industrial level, the same knowledge drives the development of products that protect hearing.

Knowledge often begins as the property of the few, perhaps those involved in the initial research. Whether or not it disseminates into public knowledge is dependent on several key factors:

  • How significant is the knowledge?
  • Will it change the way we do or view things?
  • Does it provide a new direction that wasn’t possible before?
  • How relevant is the knowledge?
  • Can having this knowledge make a difference on a personal level?
  • How accessible is the knowledge?
  • Is it simple enough for the layperson to understand?
  • Is there a medium through which the knowledge can be communicated?

For example, the discovery of a protein involved in the encoding of sound in the brain may be of significance to further research, but it is likely to be of little relevance to the public unless knowing about this protein will make a difference on a personal level and providing it can be explained in a way that makes sense.

Language of Hearing Care

Language refers to the terminology we use to describe matters relating to hearing. Words and phrases are used as a shorthand to communicate pre-agreed meanings and associations. Over time these words and phases might begin to absorb alternative meanings and associations that result in a distortion of or change from the original or intended meaning.

  • Use of the word or phrase in other contexts.
  • Persistent misuse of the word or phrase over time.
  • Associations a word may have for an individual or group.

A good example of the is the word “aids”, an abbreviation of the phrase “hearing aids”. Before 1982, the phrase “Do you have aids?” would refer unambiguously to whether or not an individual possessed hearing aids. After 1982 the same phrase would be interpreted as meaning “Are you H.I.V. positive?”. Not only had the meaning changed, but it now brought with it other, negative associations.

This is an interesting example of how the language we use to describe matters relating to hearing needs to be carefully considered if we are to understand their impact on attitudes.

Indeed the power of language to evoke emotion and imagery is something well understood by poets, politicians and advertisers alike. Getting it right can be the difference between raising a barrier and a opening a door.

This driver can therefore have both positive and negative.

Effect of Reduced Hearing

A reduction in hearing not only affects the individual, it affects those who come into contact with that individual as well as wider society. How it affects them, to what extent it affects them, and how we react as a result, all contribute to our attitudes because it determines to what extent it upsets the normal, expected daily flow.

This driver therefore has the greatest negative impact on attitudes.

Ability to Treat Reducing Hearing

The better our ability to treat a reduction in hearing, the more we cancel out the effect of reduced hearing. This driver therefore has the greatest positive impact on attitudes.

Respect for Our Sense of Hearing

Respect for Our Sense of Hearing is based on the interaction of all the other drivers. How much attention and resources we devote to our sense of hearing will depend on how much respect we have for it.

  • If we have neutral respect, we will not actively put our hearing at risk, but likewise we won’t actively provide it with the necessary care: we effectively take it for granted.
  • If we have negative respect, we will will actively put our hearing at risk (e.g. not wear hearing protection when we know we should) or leave a reduction in hearing untreated (e.g. it’s everyone else’s problem), even though we know the correct course of action.
  • If we have positive respect, we will do what we can to keep hold of the hearing we have and use any means available to us to treat a reduction in hearing.

Next: Natural Evolution of Attitudes to Hearing Care through the Primary Drivers

Read 3795 times Last modified on Sunday, 20 January 2013 23:23
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