Christmas gifts to promote hearing health awareness
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2014. Due to it's overwhelming popularity and timeliness, we have updated it to publish today with new gift ideas to promote hearing loss awareness this holiday season!
Shhh – don’t look now, but the holidays are right around the corner! No need to panic. Our gift-giving guide contains thoughtful gifts for every person on your holiday list – especially if you’re an advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately two or three out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with hearing loss in one or both ears. Since hearing devices may be a familiar part of their daily life, it’s nice to find toy manufacturers which produce like-minded accessories.
American Girl Doll hearing aids:
As part of their mission of “helping girls become their very best,” the company offers $14 removable doll-sized hearing aids for their 18 inch dolls. The hearing aids are available at the time of purchase, at retail locations and in the doll hospital, and include a permanent piercing behind the ear to ensure the hearing aid fits properly to the doll’s ear for easy placement and removal.
“American Girl has a long history of creating items that speak to diversity and inclusion, and the hearing aids are yet another way we have expanded in this important area,” Susan Jevens, Sr. Public Relations Associate for American Girl, said.
Build-A-Bear hearing aids:
If your child wears hearing aids and enjoys personalizing his own animals at Build-A-Bear, be sure to look for the stuffed red and silver hearing aid the next time you’re there. The $2 accessory affixes to the stuffed animal’s ear with a piece of elastic. This accessory is a great gift – not only for the child who wears hearing aids but also to help normal hearing children understand why others do.
There’s nothing like a great storybook character to teach tolerance and understanding, especially when it comes to hearing loss. Here are a few good books featuring characters all children can relate to, regardless of their ability to hear.
A Button in Her Ear by Ada B. Litchfield
Suitable for 7-9 year olds
Follow Angela as she discovers she has hearing loss and adjusts to wearing a hearing aid. The 32-page picture book contains text suitable for primary readers and is a great way to teach normal hearing children about hearing loss.
I’m Deaf and It’s Okay by Lorraine Aseltine
Suitable for ages 4 and older
A children’s picture book about a young boy who expresses his feelings about being deaf – and the encouragement he receives from a deaf teenager who leads a normal life.
Jessi’s Secret Language (Baby-Sitters Club) by Ann Matthews Martin
Suitable for ages 8 and older
Jessi learns American Sign Language from young Matt Braddock and becomes swept up in local efforts to introduce ASL to other interested children.
Missing (Hear No Evil) by Kate Chester
Suitable for ages 11 and older
When a beautiful and popular girl disappears, deaf detective Sara Howell launches a private search for her friend. This book is part of a series by Kate Chester, featuring smart, savvy, beautiful and deaf Sara Howell as a teenager with investigative skills.
Who doesn’t like a little bling for the holidays! Several websites offer a variety of hearing health awareness products, including jewelry and clothing, clocks and ornaments. Friends and family members who are deaf or wear hearing devices as well as hearing health advocates may appreciate gifts from one of these online retailers:
DeafGifts.com – From aprons to baby items and greeting cards to tote bags, DeafGifts.com has it all. Jewelry includes “I LOVE YOU” sign language earrings, pendants, pins and bracelets for prices ranging from $10 to $50.
Liberty Hearing and Health – If you’re looking for a unique gift for your deaf or hard of hearing friend or family member, consider buying them a vibrating alarm wristwatch. These watches look just like conventional watches, but incorporate added features such as a vibrating alarm with settings for multiple alarms within a 24-hour period. Prices from $44.
Etsy– search for hearing aid jewelry on Etsy and you’ll find a variety of unique and handmade items. Some of our favorite sites include HaleighsCharms, which feature handmade hearing aid charms and WhimsicalPixies, which hand make cochlear implant ribbon charms, earrings and hearing aid jewelry.
If you’re more of a charitable giver, consider making a donation to a hearing health awareness charity in honor of someone you love. Here are a few to consider:
Hearing Charities of America supports those who are deaf or hard of hearing through awareness, volunteerism and philanthropy. Partners include the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Better Hearing Institute, Hearing Loss Association of America and Sertoma.
American Society for Deaf Children is committed to empowering diverse families with deaf children and youth by embracing full access to language-rich environments through mentoring, advocacy, resources and collaborative networks. This organization depends solely on donations, membership and proceeds from conferences for operations.
Hearing Health Foundation is the largest private funder of hearing research, with a mission to prevent and cure hearing loss and tinnitus through groundbreaking research. In addition to outright donations, donors can also fundraise, donate appreciated stock, make a gift through their will or estate, or fund an entire research project.
Did you know that noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate 12.5 percent of children and adolescents age 6-19 years and 17 percent of adults age 20-69 have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise. Fortunately, noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable – which makes the following gifts a good choice for almost everyone on your Christmas list:
Safety head phones. If your family enjoys participating in noisy activities – such as hunting, snowmobiling or motorcycle riding – consider purchasing a pair of safety headphones for each member of the family. Prices range from $50 to $300, depending on their quality and function. Find them online, in sporting goods stores, or from your hearing healthcare professional.
Ear muffs are available for babies and small children, too. When choosing a pair for the child in your life, look for a pair with a noise reduction rating (NPR) of 20-26, good padding, no hard edges or corners, a smooth adjustable headband, and proper clamping force to keep the ear muffs tight against the head.
Now that you know what you’re buying everyone, pour yourself a cup of hot cocoa and put another log on the fire. From our house to yours, here’s wishing you a holiday season full of love and understand and a New year brimming with happiness and healthy hearing.