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What it means to be a Phonak hEARo

Five years ago I began my journey as the first Phonak hEARo. Looking back on my journey as a Phonak ambassador, I’ve learned and grown a lot along the way, especially as it relates to finding confidence in my hearing loss and helping others who have similar experiences.

It’s been an exciting ride of discovering, exploring, and embracing my deafness and sharing my stories along the way.

If you’re interested in becoming a Phonak hEARo, I hope my insights will allow you to learn more about the program and how it can help you feel more confident living with hearing loss, while making friends within the community along the way.

Where my hearing loss journey began

My late teens were where my hearing loss journey started. From the discovery and understanding the spectrum of deafness, to accepting my hearing loss and building up my confidence to talk about my deafness, my journey led me searching for an inspiring deaf role model to look up to, but I never found that person.

“…my journey led me searching for an inspiring deaf role model to look up to, but I never found that person.”

That combined with the aspiration to share my personal experiences and challenges I faced of living with hearing loss, I was encouraged by someone close to me to start my personal blog. There, Deafie Blogger was born. Soon after that, my Phonak hEARo journey began.

The hEARo program then…

My blogging venture with Phonak started when I was 18 years old. Back then, HearingLikeMe.com was just transitioning to what it is now – the #1 News and Lifestyle Website for People with Hearing Loss.

As someone who has worn Phonak hearing aids their whole life, I am proud to be the first Phonak hEARo. It feels really good to have a connection with the Phonak brand. Their hearing aids have brought me the beauty of sound which I’ve been forever grateful for. Not only that, but helping Phonak to build their advocacy program over the years has been incredibly rewarding. Knowing that we can reach out to others with hearing loss makes my work more meaningful.

Developing my writing skills

As a Phonak hEARo, my main role was writing blog posts for HearingLikeMe.com. Looking back, not only have I developed my views on hearing loss, but also my writing style.

This was my first Phonak blog: Deafie Blogger joins Open Ears

Becoming a writer over these years has been something self-taught. I’m not much of a bookworm, but I have a love of grammar and spelling! My comprehension and English levels have never been brilliant since school and I never imagined I’d be a writer. Writing for HearingLikeMe has given me the opportunity to develop my writing portfolio, and journalistic expertise.

I’ve loved exploring different writing styles, looking at extensive vocabulary, whilst keeping the context simple for the audience. That combined with learning to write in varied narrative voices – in 1st and 3rd person, has been a tricky skill to master, doing interview style blogs, as well as developing my personal writing style to fit the content that HearingLikeMe provides.

It’s fair to say 5 years has covered a huge period for me, age-wise; exploring teenage life through education and further, transitioning through to adulthood, and gaining independence as a young adult, the journey through employment, and my personal and social life.

There has been tons of inspiration with hearing loss and deafness being ever-so-changing, featuring new technologies, more awareness, increased recognition of talent and a rise in deaf and hearing loss individuals sharing their stories and creating fun, new content.

Not to forget the wonderful comments I receive from my blogs, spurring me to continue writing! Whether it’s parents of newly diagnosed deaf children, or someone just coming to terms with their hearing loss – knowing that my stories have inspired and motivated people, showing them that they’re not alone, there’s no such feeling like it!

“…knowing that my stories have inspired and motivated people, showing them that they’re not alone, there’s no such feeling like it!”

Through my stories, I love highlighting my personal motto: “deaf people can achieve anything they dream of, given the right support – nothing should stand in their way of reaching their goals.”

Exploring Photography

With my newfound confidence as a Phonak hEARo, I was also enabled to show off my hearing aids, wear my hair up, experiment with different hairstyles, and of course decorate my hearing aids! My hearing aids are a part of me, and my style, who I am so they’re an accessory! So why not flaunt it!

I love taking photos of my hearing aids, of the variety of styles and stickers that they can be decorated with, as well as exploring natural lifestyle photography showing me wearing my hearing aids in everyday life.

It’s so rewarding reading the comments that others are inspired to show theirs off, and to get involved with ‘pimping their hearing aids’ – and it’s so nice to show that it’s not something that you should hide, that you should embrace and be proud of.

Believe it or not, I’ve written over 120 blogs for HearingLikeMe over the 5 years! Each article covering a different topic, story or featuring many talented individuals… I’m surprised that I still find angles to write about! I’ve shared my top blogs at the end of this article, for you to enjoy.

My Blogs

Here are my favourite blogs I’ve written for HearingLikeMe!

How to learn sign language

10 Misconceptions about Hearing Loss

What no one tells you about being a deaf teen

7 Tips for Using a Phonak Roger Pen 

Artist drawing hearing aids on art to break down stigmas

My Top 5 Highlights of being a Phonak hEARo

Being a Phonak hEARo didn’t stop at blogging. I’ve also had some amazing memorable experiences!

Visiting Phonak HQ

In 2016, I visited the Phonak HQ in Switzerland. There, I had the opportunity to meet the team, tour the production center to learn how hearing aids are made, and  test out cool hearing technologies, such as the Phonak Roger Pen.

Good Vibrations Music Festival

In 2017, I travelled to Texas to attend the Good Vibrations Music Festival; the first deaf accessible music festival. It was an amazing experience, especially on a personal level being able to enjoy music in a variety of accessible ways, not just through audio, but through visual and sensory means.

Read more: Music lovers enjoy full accessibility at first “deaf-friendly” festival

Photoshoot

I’ve been involved in some cool photoshoots with the HearingLikeMe team, the most exciting one where I had to stand on a table, on the roof of a Swiss apartment, in the breezy April wind – but it was worth it to get this shot!

Instagram Stories Takeover

I loved taking over the HearingLikeMe Instagram Stories this year, it gave me a chance to tell my story to their amazing followers, to do a fun Q&A and engage with and inspire people. It’s great to see that the hEARo takeovers have become a weekly feature!

Connecting with the online community

A fun part of being a Phonak hEARo has been collaborating with fellow hEARos to share stories, interview one another, make videos together and just connect about our hearing loss. Having a community shows we’re not alone, as it brings people with hearing loss together, reducing isolation and celebrating talent and deaf pride.

Read more articles from the Community

Join the Phonak hEARo program

Since the five years that the Phonak hEARo program began, it has now grown to a community of more than 200 inspiring and talented D/deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Together, we come together to advocate, educate and motivate the deaf and hearing loss community.

The Phonak “hEARos” program supports a community of inspirational individuals who harness Phonak’s passion to fighting the stigma attached to hearing loss. Together, we tear down barriers for the hard of hearing and find new and innovative ways to help everyone reconnect to the beauty of sound.

If you feel like you have what it takes to become a Phonak hEARo you can also join the Phonak hEARo program!

The future…

At the start of my Phonak hEARo journey, I never found that person to look up to. Today, the talent out there is limitless, never-ending, and inspiring. I’m grateful to be a part of this online community.

“Today, the talent out there is limitless, never-ending, and inspiring. I’m grateful to be a part of this online community.”

Reflecting on my experience has been poignant reminder to cherish every memory, to live every day to the full and to share your story, as it’s not only educating, but inspiring, and has the potential of changing people’s lives.

As I look ahead to the future, I’m excited for what’s yet to come. I’d also like to thank Phonak for this adventure. Here’s to the next 5 years!

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Author Details
Ellie was born profoundly deaf, uses verbal communication, lipreads and wears Phonak Sky Q hearing aids. She is currently learning British Sign Language. Ellie hasn’t let her disability stand in the way and embraces every new challenge. Her deafness didn’t prevent her from achieving major accomplishments in her life, such as excelling in her education, previously working as a Marketing Executive and now as an Events Coordinator for a deaf organization, as well as blogging for Hearing Like Me. She is passionate about deaf awareness, campaigning for equality and helping others through her personal blog as Deafie Blogger.
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Ellie was born profoundly deaf, uses verbal communication, lipreads and wears Phonak Sky Q hearing aids. She is currently learning British Sign Language. Ellie hasn’t let her disability stand in the way and embraces every new challenge. Her deafness didn’t prevent her from achieving major accomplishments in her life, such as excelling in her education, previously working as a Marketing Executive and now as an Events Coordinator for a deaf organization, as well as blogging for Hearing Like Me. She is passionate about deaf awareness, campaigning for equality and helping others through her personal blog as Deafie Blogger.
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