Name: Robin “Bino” Gillon
Profession: Professional freeskier who specializes in Big Air, Slopestyle, and Backcountry/Powder skiing
Hobbies/Interests: Snowmobiling and dirt biking
Social Media Accounts: Instagram: @robingillon
When and how was your hearing loss diagnosed?
I was four years old when my hearing loss was diagnosed. My family kept wondering for the first three years of my existence why I was strictly speaking gibberish. Doctors kept telling my family that I was just taking my time and there was nothing to worry about. Then, at a family Christmas dinner with all my cousins (all the same age), we had to sing a Christmas song we learned at preschool individually in front of the tree. I’ll let you imagine the disaster it was when it was my turn to sing. That’s when my family started to really worry. After several visits with different doctors, the kids’ hospital in Bern sent me to an audiologist for kids. I was told to put a little Lego character on the Lego boat each time I heard a noise through the headset. It is safe to say that the little boat was empty at the end of the test.
What is your hearing loss?
I was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss, with 10% in my left and 30% of hearing in my right ear.
What hearing devices do you wear?
How has your hearing loss affected your life?
This topic is a heavy one. I was and am constantly facing adversity. There is still a bit of a stigma around hearing loss and deafness, although we are seeing general progress in today’s society.
My story of growing up as a deaf kid was made into a documentary. It has won multiple awards.
Lots of people told me I could never become an athlete. I became the best skier in my nation and the top 40 skier on the planet representing my country at the highest stage. People also told me I could never study at a university, I recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance and management (double major).
Last and not least, I would like to check the last box out of my list of things that people told me. I could never do: fly planes. I’m working on getting my license to fully operate and fly my own plane.
My hearing in the end hasn’t really affected my life in the grand scheme of things. It became a driving factor to outdo myself and be competitive in the hearing world.
How do you deal with frustrations related to your hearing loss?
I do a lot of sports. The kind that doesn’t let you think about anything else but the very thing that you are doing – a.k.a. action sports. These sports allow no room for mistakes as they can take you out any second. What I like about these sports is that they will completely take you away from everyday anguish. Also, adrenaline is a hell of a drug. The action sports world is, generally speaking, welcoming, diverse, and understanding.
If an unfortunate scenario due to my hearing loss happens, I usually take a step back, educate my surroundings and find solutions to the presenting issue. In other words, I do not let anyone walk over me.
What is something you’ve had to deal with in your career/schooling because of your hearing loss, and what was the result?
In third grade, my teachers had me redo the year completely, even though I passed the year and had decent grades to go on with my classmates. This put me in a very difficult spot as I became the target of mockery, put in a classroom with younger students, and became very rebellious towards school in general.
Several times, my elementary school teachers told my parents that they should consider putting me in special ed or school for the deaf and blind. There is nothing wrong with these, but I knew very well I was capable of anything I wanted to achieve if I was actually given a chance or have an accommodation like a note taker or live captioning. Thankfully my family and I always fought back and made sure I was given equal opportunities as we knew I would be able to succeed.
What is your involvement with hearing loss advocacy?
I have made two movies now that I am very proud of and have collected several awards globally. The second movie was done with Phonak and it came out really awesome. I get to present it to schools, festivals, and events where I give speeches on acceptance, bullying, hearing loss, and facing adversities in life. I gladly speak about all of these subjects in the newspapers, media, and more. I have collected funds for the foundation Hear the World for kids around the globe that do not have the resources to obtain hearing solutions. I have a brand called “Deaf Jam,” which is a core brand with a punk accent from the early 2000s era. I probably lost count of all the things I’ve been doing to raise awareness about hearing loss, but my door is always open to help others overcome their insecurities and overcome adversity.
What is a motto you live by?
There are no barriers.
What advice do you have for others with hearing loss?
Do not let anybody tell you what you can or cannot do. Being deaf/HOH will make you a much more interesting and amazing human being. It will give you powers and tricks nobody else can have or would even think about. You can and will be successful. You will find love. You will reach your biggest goals. However, some adjustment, creativity, and willpower will be required. You can do this!