Inspired by my UK sojourns, I am working to transform the way the USA provides listening assistance to people with hearing loss. If I am having difficulty hearing in most UK auditoriums, churches, or cathedrals, or at a post office window or in a London taxi, I need only push a button and, voila!, my hearing aids become wireless loudspeakers that deliver sound customized for my hearing needs.
Here in the USA the prevalent hearing assistance technology ignores what human factors psychology teaches us—to consider the human user. It requires people who are having trouble hearing to get up, locate, check out, and wear conspicuous FM or infrared receiver/headset units that deliver generic sound. Alas, few people with hearing loss will do so. We much prefer hearing assistance that is simple, convenient, and customized.
So, mindful of the power of message repetition, social networking, and group polarization, I have launched a website, sent e-mails, written articles, and found common cause with fellow hearing advocates and professional hearing associations. In some states we have crossed a tipping point for the adoption of this user-friendly technology, featured recently in the New York Times. Happily, momentum is accelerating.
David G. Myers is a social psychologist and a communicator of psychological science to college students and the general public. His scientific writings, supported by National Science Foundation grants and fellowships, have appeared in three dozen academic periodicals, including Science, the American Scientist, the American Psychologist, and Psychological Science.