If you want to get ahead get a hat

Like many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, Bundjalung man Joshua Fares and his 15-year-old-son William, both experienced middle ear infections throughout childhood that led to hearing loss.

The good news for William is that he is the recipient of a ‘hearing hat’, a first for the Clarence Valley region. It's an innovation with which families in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities might want to become more familiar.

What's so specical about the hat?

There are many different types of hearing aids, from in-ear to behind-the-ear. But the hearing hat is one that doesn't get much attention.

On a recent visit to Bulgarr Ngaru for his hearing, the audiologists from Hearing Australia told us about a hearing aid that goes into a hat, Joshua explains.

We only needed to pay for the hat William wanted which was $20. The hearing aid was supplied by Hearing Australia.

The hearing hat uses a bone conduction hearing aid tucked securely inside. Microphone tubing pokes through a hole on top of the hat to pick up speech sounds. It's a clever option for young people like William who might feel more comfortable in a hat than wearing a visible hearing device.

“The hat makes it easier to wear hearing aids as I don’t feel like it stands out so much. I got to pick the style and it’s just right for me!” William says.

Since getting the hat

William, his parents and teachers all agree the hearing hat led to improvements in his schooling, including having the confidence to ask and answer questions. He's also feeling happier overall.

School is much better now with the hearing hat. I’m starting to understand more things in class; I’m catching up on work and finishing on time. The hat helps with background noise so even when the kids are screaming I can still hear the teacher, William says.

Both William and Joshua said other families should not be afraid of getting their ear health checked.

As parents, you want to ensure your child gets the best education they can and they need to listen in order to learn, Joshua says.

At the first sign of a sore ear or infection, go see your doctor for treatment. If you leave it, it’s just going to get worse and your child can end up with hearing loss.

Hearing Australia is the leading provider of hearing loss support services and devices. For more information on hearing loss for children we’re happy to chat.

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