Living with hearing loss and my experiences with hearing technology led me to audiology. I have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears. In my left ear, I wear a Phonak behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid. In my right ear, I wear a cochlear implant (CI). I joined Phonak in 2017 as an audiologist, and now I work for the headquarters in Switzerland.
My own audiologist and family were strong supporters for me throughout my hearing loss journey. They played a large role in getting me where I am today. Now I strive to provide that kind of support to others. It feels natural to want to work with and help others with hearing loss. I can relate to the challenges they have, and provide guidance on solutions to overcome these challenges. Additionally, I am fascinated by the technology I depend on every day to connect me to the hearing world. I want to share this excitement with others.
“It feels natural to want to work with and help others with hearing loss.”
Hearing aid technology has significantly improved during my lifetime. In the early days of my childhood, I wore a body hearing aid strapped over my chest and shoulders. The setup was bulky and the sound quality was poor. Wearing a body hearing aid emphasized my disability among my classmates. Luckily, those days did not last long before I was able to upgrade to analog BTE hearing aids.
By late elementary school, I transitioned from analog to digital BTE hearing aids. I struggled to adjust to this new sound at first. The sound quality was so different than what I was familiar with, and I did not like change. However, I knew that wearing hearing aids helped me to hear and understand in school, so I learned to adapt.
The introduction of Bluetooth and wireless accessories was a game-changer for me. It was amazing to stream music into my hearing aids. I was able to better connect with my peers about the songs and singers we all loved listening to. When I was old enough to have my own mobile phone, the ability to stream phone calls was so cool. My fear in picking up the phone decreased and I better understood the caller. A few years later, direct streaming of phone calls, music, and television to hearing aids became a reality. I no longer needed to wear an additional streamer around my neck.
Since then, I became more excited to have the new and latest technology that could improve my hearing performance. I looked forward to working with my audiologist to determine which solutions fit my needs the best.
About 2.5 years ago, I made a life-changing decision to undergo cochlear implantation in my right ear. The improvements in technology made it possible for me to pursue this path. At first, it was difficult learning how to hear with a CI. In the first few months, everyone sounded robotic – think Darth Vader! Luckily, I did not have to listen to Darth Vader for too long. This improved with time, rehabilitation, and patience. But the amazing part of my journey was seeing my speech understanding improve. I went from 36 percent understanding with the hearing aid before the surgery to 86 percent understanding with the CI a few months after the surgery! The technological features with my hearing instruments allow me to reconnect with those around me. I am able to communicate in a variety of listening environments more than ever before.
Based on my hearing journey and life experiences, I decided to work as an audiologist in a manufacturer setting, like Phonak, to be closer to the development of hearing solutions. I am fascinated by how technology has changed over the years. Now I want to be on the front lines and contribute to this change. What is fascinating about working with products is translating what we do on a technology level into client benefits. I help create resources, training, and tools to show what the technology does and how it benefits both the audiologists and their clients. It is a unique opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from all over the world. Hearing solutions are evolving at a fast rate, but it is important that they are developed with both the audiologist and client in mind.
By working in a larger manufacturer setting, I hope to make a difference to many people at once. In the end, I strive to help people hear better and gain access to the sounds around them.
How has your hearing loss led you to your profession?