Retired rugby star and straight ally Ben Cohen is clinically deaf in both ears and he told the press this weekend that he’s been greatly helped by new hearing aids provided by Elton John.
Ben said: “He called me out of the blue and said, ‘I hear you’re going deaf. I love the work you’re doing and I’d love to help you. When you’re next in America, I’m going to send you to Starkey to fit you with new hearing aids.” Ben added the new technology “changed my life”. He said: “The hearing aids are directional, they pick up the sound in front of me, like a person I’m talking to, more than background noise.”
In addition to his AIDS advocacy, Elton is the ambassador for the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which helps children in Third World countries. Cohen explains the technology:
“I’m into the profound hearing loss category. I’m going deaf,’ says Ben. “Certain sounds – such as the letters T and K – I can’t really hear at all. But my new hearing aids are directional, so they pick up the sound in front of me, like the person I’m talking to, more than background noise. I’ve got a remote control with it that can muffle the sound in, say, a crowded bar, so it’s not too intense. They also gave me headphones that fit into your ear that I can link up to the TV.”
Cohen says that his hearing loss is unrelated to having played rugby and that his father is also hearing-impaired. He adds that he had previously rejected hearing aids as he found them cumbersome and ineffective.