A dear friend of mine who is deafblind recently lent me a copy of her heroine’s biography. Helen Keller, an American lady born in 1880, who as a toddler was left deaf and blind from an acute illness. The book tells a story of triumph over adversity. The struggles she faced during the nineteenth century, but still portrays a ‘symbol of hope’ for other deaf, blind and deafblind people.
Thinking about this made me realize how technology has played such a huge part in the lives of so many deaf people the world over in recent years. Also, how fortunate I am to have been born into this generation. Many deaf people have been helped through either hearing aids or more recently cochlear implants.
To me, hearing technology signifies ‘choice’. As a D/deaf person, the disability might restrict communication choices. With the provision of hearing aids and implants, deaf people now have more choice as to how they prefer to communicate. Whether it is through using hearing technology or not. I see hearing technology which gives D/deaf people the ability to hear the gift of sound, as giving people the ability to hear the gift of sound and to process if that’s what they want.
Technology, of course, isn’t the choice for everyone. But at least, the availability widens our choice. Luckily, we have various languages and communication choices nowadays. This means that oral communication doesn’t have to be the only way. I’m so pleased to see the media recently promoting the beauty and benefits of sign language. This will hopefully help it’s progression to become an equal form of communication/language.
To me, hearing aids are an integral part of my life. I’m sure that for many, the method an individual chooses can help them feel less isolated by their deafness and provides them with such a lifeline to the outside world.
Though I’m 21 and have a profound hearing loss, cochlear implants weren’t available to me through our National Health Service when I was young. I was fitted with Phonak Hearing Aids at the age of ten months, but it certainly wasn’t easy. As a toddler, I did not like to keep my hearing aids on. I used to pull them from my ears and launch them across the room. I was in an angry, frustrated frenzy as my poor confused brain couldn’t compute these alien noises. Today, I am grateful I can take part in the world which many hearing people take for granted.
“Today, I am grateful I can take part in the world which many hearing people take for granted.”
As a young adult, I’m beginning to understand how hearing technology has transformed my life in so many ways. Not only can I access these sounds, but my hearing aids are clever and useful enough to allow me to listen, appreciate, enjoy and digest so many wonderful experiences which I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.
Witnessing the joy which many babies, children, and adults experience when their implants or hearing aids are turned on is a sight to behold.
For many parents of this generation, with the news of a hearing loss diagnosis for their precious babies, hopefully having more choice will also give them more hope for a better future for their children. As well as giving back control which it may feel like a disability can take away.
How does your hearing technology, or the choice of preferred communication make you feel grateful? Let us know in the comments.