Not all superhearoes wear capes: how an audiology student is raising awareness for individuals with hearing loss and her profession

Ellie McIntosh

By Katarina Fiorentino Klatzkow  

“I want to be an ear doctor!” exclaimed elementary students to Ellie McIntosh, B.A., a second-year Doctor of Audiology student at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions.  

During her Thanksgiving break, McIntosh traveled home to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where she presented to over 250 students and 12 different classrooms from kindergarten to fifth grade at Read Elementary School.  

“My best friend is a third-grade teacher, and she asked if I was interested in coming to talk to her class. When she asked her principal for permission, the principal thought it was such a cool opportunity for the school and asked if I would be willing to present to multiple classrooms,” said McIntosh. “I was booked for two school days.”  

The purpose of her presentation, she said, was to raise awareness about the field of audiology and destigmatize hearing loss at a young age. McIntosh discussed ear anatomy, cochlear implants, hearing aids and hearing conservation; read from different hearing loss related books; and provided hearing aid and cochlear implant demonstrations.

Ellie McIntosh
In addition to her presentation, thanks to generous donations made by Med El, a hearing aid manufacturer, and Advanced Bionics, a cochlear implant manufacturer, McIntosh was able to hand out superhear-o capes, pens, sunglasses and books to the children. The older students were sent home with a copy of “Leo Gets His Cochlear Implant,” a children’s story written by an audiologist about a young lion who undergoes cochlear implant surgery.  


“I put up the alphabet in American Sign Language in my presentation so the kids could try signing their name if they wanted to and we had a basic ASL lesson,” McIntosh said. “I got the kids to sign ‘I love you’ to their teacher in most of the classrooms, and they loved it.” 

“Now, instead of these kids seeing someone else wearing an amplification device and thinking that it is weird or different, they will think, ‘Oh, I know what that is! How cool!’ Knowing this, and hopefully making a more inclusive learning environment for kids with hearing loss, was my favorite part of this experience.”  

Ellie McIntosh
“If you have an opportunity to spread awareness and destigmatize hearing loss — take it! Our field is small, and we should seize every opportunity that we get, especially during our education. Not only does each opportunity help someone, but it also helps you to understand what you are passionate about and who you want to be as a clinician,” she said.

She plans to expand the program and bring her presentations to local schools in Gainesville and Alachua County and hopes to involve her peers and audiology classmates as well.  

“I was pleasantly surprised by the engagement from teachers,” McIntosh said. “They asked a wide range of questions. “I was able to educate them on preferential seating, classroom microphones, subtitles on the screen for the older kids, and many other ways to help the students learn.”    

“My favorite part about my presentation experience was seeing how excited the kiddos got and how cool and interesting they thought the hearing aids and cochlear implants were. Kids with normal hearing were asking, ‘How do I get hearing aids? I want some!’ McIntosh said.

Reflecting on her experience, McIntosh said that hearing students exclaim that they wanted to be ear doctors melted her heart. “Becoming an audiologist is an amazing goal. It’s such an important job, and we need good clinicians out there,” she said. “I would tell any student who wants to be an audiologist to go after it and don’t give up!” 


Learn More about Ellie

Ellie McIntosh is currently a second-year audiology student in the PHHP department of speech, language, and hearing sciences. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She shares how she became passionate about audiology, what she loves about living in Gainesville, and what mottos she lives by.  

What’s a fun fact about you or something many people don’t know about you? 

A fun fact about me is that I have met the Jonas Brothers twice! 

What is your favorite place in Gainesville? 

I love The Top restaurant downtown! I am a vegetarian, and their menu is full of so many amazing vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options! It is also such a fun atmosphere. 

What’s your favorite quote, saying or motto?  

Work to Live, instead of Live to Work! 

What inspired you to pursue a career in audiology?  

My mom is hard of hearing. She has single-sided deafness and Meniere’s Disease (a disease that causes hearing loss and episodes of vertigo) and seeing how it affected her life inspired me to pursue this field. I wanted to be a part of ensuring that individuals like my mom get the best hearing health care possible. 

If you could tell the public one thing related to audiology, what would you say? 

An individual with hearing loss can do everything that someone with normal hearing can do, and hearing devices are a superpower!