I was diagnosed with profound hearing loss when I was two years old, and I received my first pair of hearing aids when I was three. Growing up, I was sometimes made fun of by other children who did not understand my hearing impairment or why I wore hearing aids. Hearing aids just weren’t considered “cool.”
In many ways, I can relate to the four-year-old Anthony Smith for not wanting to wear his hearing aids. Sure, they are extremely helpful devices. I understand that now, but when I was Anthony’s age, I just wanted to be accepted and cool. Marvel seems to have the answer to how to make hearing aids cool for kids.
After receiving an e-mail from Anthony’s mom, Christina D’Allesandro, Marvel set out to create a new hearing-impaired superhero named Blue Ear. The production team at Marvel decided to pair Blue Ear with the 80s superhero and leader of the West Coast Avengers, Hawkeye. This pairing seems natural since Hawkeye previously suffered from a hearing impairment, but later had his hearing restored. Blue Ear’s special superhero power is of course his blue hearing device, or hearing aid. In one of the first comics featuring Blue Ear, he says, “Thanks to my listening device, I hear someone in trouble!” Marvel seems to be accomplishing two things with their new super hero already: 1. Making hearing aids cool for kids who need them and 2. Showing kids how beneficial wearing their hearing aids really can be.
Marvel’s creation of Blue Ear should be viewed as a major breakthrough in regards to the deaf/hard of hearing community. Hearing loss is typically ignored by the media. Marvel’s creation of Blue Ear may help to create a better understanding and acceptance of hearing loss among children. The creation of Blue Ear has already worked wonders for Anthony who seems to have embraced the character and now wears his hearing aid with pride. Hopefully when Anthony enters into grade school, his peers will also be accepting of his disability when he explains that superheroes wear hearing aids too.