In 2011, UK mom Sarah Ivermee gave birth to her son Freddie. Born prematurely and with a virus called Congenital CMV, Freddie was left profoundly deaf in one ear and moderately to severely deaf in the other.
At just 2 months old, he was fitted with a single hearing aid.
In 2014, the family got funding for a cochlear implant for Freddie’s profoundly deaf ear. While he loved it, Ivermee quickly found out that not all children react the same way to the device.
“Unfortunately we learnt very quickly that not all families have had such a smooth ride, having lots of problems with children not wanting to wear their devices as they look ‘ugly and unappealing’. We did some research and found there was not a lot available to improve the look of hearing devices and decided there must be something we could do.”
That’s when Ivermee decided to turn difference into strength.
After hearing from a friend that her 9-year-old daughter felt out-of-place while wearing her device, she offered to decorate it with stickers and the results were something the young girl loved.
“She loves them and loves the fact that she can have fancy designs and her friends don’t,” Ivermee told The Mighty.
That gave Ivermee an idea to help even more children with hearing loss regain their confidence.
In 2014, she started a company called Lugs, and began selling custom-made kits families could use to decorate hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Her designs range from dazzling flowers and butterflies to superheroes and cartoon characters – and children around the world are showing them off!
“I thought there would be a lot of families struggling with children who don’t want to wear their [hearing devices], and I felt I had to help,” Ivermee said.
And the mom of two simply can’t believe that kids all over the world are now wearing the creative designs she makes by hand in her living room.
“Knowing children are not just happy to wear their hearing aids and cochlears but that they are proud to show them off makes it all worthwhile,” Ivermee told The Mighty.
Ivermee now uses her website and social media to display photos sent in by parents of their children sporting Lugs on their hearing devices.
In order to get a kit, parents just need to choose their child’s device from a list so Ivermee can be sure the stickers will fit. Ordering is simple and she’s happy to customize kits and accommodate special requests within reason.
Kits come in a range of prices, but all of the kits appear to be under $17 USD plus shipping.
She even makes kits for special occasions and holidays like Halloween.
While Lugs is still a one-woman show, Ivermee’s business will no doubt grow with all the positive feedback.
One mother even wrote in to say that the kit she got for her 3-month-old was relieving some of her own stress.
While we might think we tolerate differences and disabilities with ease, many of us don’t realize how it feels to be stared at or asked invasive questions just because we don’t look the same.
Kids are especially sensitive to this and Ivernee’s kits give kids (and parents) the confidence to walk around with pride.
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