Creating a positive view

Thursday, October 31, 2013
First author:
Kaa P. van der
Adapting the Environment I

Balancine, Breda, the Netherlands

All authors:

Petra C. van der Kaa

Empowerment & Environment


Hearing problems are expected to affect only older people. The many young people and children with hearing problems are not being considered. They don’t associate themselves with the older people with hearing aids that are portrayed in advertisements. Young people with a hearing impairment act, out of shame, like they are normal-hearing people. This has a negative influence on their self-esteem, health and wellness.

In a sponsored project, Balancine invited people with a hearing impairment to put their ears into the picture by photographing them. The aim is to improve the (self)images of young people with a hearing impairment, to improve their self-esteem and to influence the way society thinks about them.


An art project in which Balancine photographed young hearing aid users in a positive, non-medical way. The ears received positive attention through unique haircuts, makeup, hats and (ear)jewelry. Short and snappy captions are accompanying these portraits to stress the participants individual identity. We portrayed their power and competences and not the impairment.The models were found in the personal network of the author, and by use of the internet, social media and advertising posters.


The results will both be shown at the conference and outside of the conference, e.g. in  articles, art exhibitions, presentations and on the internet. The self-image of the models has improved. They felt seen and heard.


It is important to take the individual as a starting point. People don’t live up to others expectations. It’s not possible to make an ideal picture. People need positive attention.They need to be asked what they want, what is important to them. This will have a positive influence on the health and wellness of people with a hearing impairment, and will create a more inclusive society.