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How Shameera inspired Ear Gear


When our daughter Shameera was born, all seemed fine. Physically she was normal, her weight was above average, and the birth had been without incident. However, as months passed, it became clear something was wrong. She was reaching her developmental milestones, such as rolling over and sitting up, but late.

My wife, Assunta, with unerring motherly instincts, was convinced her slow development indicated a more serious problem. She insisted on testing and it was from a blood test that we received the upsetting news that our beautiful baby girl had a rare chromosome abnormality called a partial Trisomy 18. This disorder can have a wide variety of effects, from physical abnormalities to developmental delays to organ malfunction, which is sometimes fatal.

Our next 2 years were a blur of tests, doctors, hospitals and searching for information on her disorder, as we tried desperately to understand how to give our daughter the best chance of a quality life. During that time, we discovered that Shameera had a mild to moderate hearing loss and would require hearing aids. Her first pair, analog BTE's, seemed huge on her tiny ears and constantly flopped. It's a challenge to keep aids on any 2 year old, but Shameera's developmental delays made it nearly impossible. We'd put them on and she'd rip them off.

At age 4, we tried again, this time with digital instruments. By then, we could reason a bit with Shameera, offer her rewards, and explain how the hearing aids helped her. But it was still a struggle. We could never predict when she would decide she'd had enough and, in one swift motion, rip the offending aid off and toss it, drop it, or hide it.

This situation caused unbelievable stress for us as parents. We were already dealing with multiple issues of developmental delays and to have to worry about Shameera losing or breaking her $4000 hearing aids was nerve wracking. We needed a solution immediately.

We tried 2-sided sticky tape that had to be changed at least daily, but Shameera found it irritating. A local Audiologist suggested a device with a stretch cord attached to a clip and two plastic rings that encased the aids. This was an improvement, but Shameera would chew on the rings until she bit right through them and could remove the aids from the rings.

Finally, Shameera hid her hearing aids at her grandmother's house, and they were lost for 3 weeks! That was my breaking point. I decided to create my own security device. I sensed that some sort of boot or cover was the answer because it would provide the dual function of hiding the aids from Shameera (out of sight, out of mind) and making it very difficult for her to remove them. I went to a seamstress with my crude drawing and asked her to make what is now known as Ear Gear. A week later, I had the first working model. We tried it on Shameera and it worked! Not only did the removal problem stop, she actually seemed to enjoy wearing her hearing aids.

Soon it became apparent why this was occurring. The hard plastic rubbing against her ears had always caused chafing and irritation. Within days of putting on Ear Gear, it had disappeared; the soft material had cured the problem. Also, the material we had chose for the first Ear Gear was a very cute little-girl pink and Shameera loved the color. Suddenly her aids were a fashion accessory.

We showed Ear Gear to our audiologist, who was very impressed. That began the eighteen month development process leading to the launch of Ear Gear in the Spring of 2005. Since then things have mushroomed. It turns out that the market for Ear Gear extends beyond infants and children to active adults who are worried about hearing aid loss.

Ear Gear

We now manufacture Ear Gear in 8 fashionable colours, and models to fit all sizes of hearing instruments from the smallest hearing aids to Cochlear Implant wearers. Ear Gear is available both in monaural and binaural models and with or without a cord and clip.

Shameera, is now 12 years old and wears a different pair of Ear Gear everyday, matching the colour of her outfit. She is proud of having been the inspiration for Ear Gear and is our cheerleader and best promoter.


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