Born 3 months prematurely with profound hearing loss in both ears, my parents determined that this disability was not going to limit my opportunities.

Starting with the miracle of Cochlear Implants at the age of 2, I was able to hear the world around me. Mainstream schooling from Grade 1 provided integration into a normal upbringing and from a young age I developed a great love for the outdoors. It took perseverance and many hours and years of hard work to become the person I am today; able to engage, communicate and lead a sport-filled life. Having the encouragement and support from family and friends I took up running, hiking, fitness and most importantly swimming.

My vision for Moving for Sound is to create greater awareness for those in similar circumstances as well as those who haven’t been as fortunate as me. There are many families who are unable to afford these surgeries and those who can, are often faced with various ongoing maintenance costs associated with these audio advancements. I wish to pay-it-forward, be a person of significance and help wherever possible to impact the lives of others.

‘If I have seen further (been further), it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ – Isaac Newton.
 
True generosity of spirit, where the partnership comes before the achievements of the individual.
 
Colleen Robinson Natural Attitude

Allow me to share some of my experiences on my journey to where I am now.  Last year I completed my BSc Sport Science Degree and this year I am finishing my Post Graduate in Education.  I am also a swimming coach.

Growing up surrounded by family, friends and students not in my situation, not knowing what it is like born into a silent world has been difficult. In the past, I did not know how to explain my deafness to people who had normal hearing. I wasn’t sure of their reaction as there are many misconceptions about loss of hearing. A sufferer of deafness or profound hearing loss might be perceived as ‘deaf and dumb’. This is both hurtful and inaccurate. Those of us with hearing loss range from mild impairment to profound deafness.  Some may be able to hear with the use of hearing aids and/or cochlear implants, assisted by techniques such as lip reading and sign language. Deaf people can communicate.

One of the challenges for hearing-impaired individuals is what I call listening fatigue: having to concentrate on listening; pretending to have heard what is said. Group discussions are difficult.

We struggle to follow conversations when everyone speaks at the same time draining our cognitive energy. The consequence of missing information, particularly in group situations, isolates the sufferer further often causing them to avoid social events and big gatherings. 

It’s not that we don’t want to participate. The real reason is that we cannot. I was on a sea saw of ups and downs when I transitioned from a deaf school to a mainstream primary school, and later to high school and then to University. There were times where I was treated just like everyone else in my class for which I am thankful, but there were times that it just broke me; I could see I was different to everyone else.

Sports such as hockey and cricket were compulsory at school, but I could play only if wore a rugby scrum hat to protect my head. This resulted in stares, sniggering behind my back, being ignored and exclusions from conversations. If I asked for something to be repeated, I was met with “Don’t worry, I’ll tell you later”, but the moment passed and I felt excluded. I lost hope, self-esteem and confidence. I steered away from the offered adaptations such as a FM system, a wireless device to enhance hearing experience in group situations, and I eventually stopped using it because it made me feel different from everyone else.

The transition to University was even harder; I pretended everything was fine; I wanted to be normal so I tried to do things everyone else did like sitting at the back row with friends. I kept my challenges to myself which meant I didn’t receive the help I needed. I hated having to explain my hearing situation to every teacher and lecturer.  Often being too embarrassed to speak about it and assuming no one cared. Towards the end of my first year at University this became intolerable and I sank into a deep hole of anxiety and depression, asking the “Why me?” questions.

Like all storms, they pass and I came through this bleak period learning that it doesn’t help to keep things bottled up inside. I’ve realised we come out stronger when we tackle the obstacles head on.

Hear Us Foundation

Hear Us Foundation

The Hear Us Foundation (originally known as "Hear") was established in 2001 in association with the Tygerberg Hospital Cochlear Implant Unit. To date they have helped over 60 implantees and their fundraising assists with the costs of implants and the support of staff...

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Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

Hearing impairment is the single most common disability in the world and is cause by damage to tiny hairs in the cochlear. International data suggests that the incidence of the most severe form of hearing loss (profound) is about 7 out of every 1000 babies born. In...

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