Adolescents’ Aesthetic and Functional View of Hearing Aids or Cochlear Implants and Their Relationship to Self-Esteem Levels

Publication Title

Fashion Practice: The Journal of Design, Creative Process & the Fashion Industry

Publication Date

Spring 4-27-2015

Document Type





adolescents, aesthetics, functionality, hearing loss, self-esteem


Art and Design | Fashion Design


This study's aim was to determine how adolescents view their hearing devices. Through a lack of understanding by mainstream society, stigmatization has resulted in hard-of-hearing (HOH) adolescents having low self-esteem. HOH adolescents’ self-esteem is related to their way of dress including the aesthetic qualities of their hearing devices. Thus, fashionability is important in the lives of people with disabilities, just as it is in the lives of those without disabilities. Focus groups, individual interviews, and a Demographic and Device Design (DDD) questionnaire were used to collect data and to give participants the opportunity to design their ideal hearing device. Eight HOH participants between the ages of twelve and nineteen were involved in the study. The data revealed that others’ perceptions of the participants influenced positive or negative perceptions of hearing loss and/or their hearing device. Four participants reported having a high level of self-esteem, while the other four reported medium to low self-esteem. Aesthetics of the hearing device was not the primary focus, functionality was. The findings can inform manufacturers and professionals working with this population to better tailor their therapies and products to HOH teens.