How the Cochlear Implant Has Helped Me

First presented at “Sharing Our Stories” workshop at A Cochlear Implant Conference for Parents And Interested Professionals run by BC Family Hearing Resource Centre in June 2002. Rosalind had been using the cochlear implant for almost 10 years back in 2002. She is now third year at the University of British Columbia, majoring in English Literature.

My name is Rosalind Ho. Today I’m going to talk about how the cochlear implant helps me, its limitations, and the best way to communicate with a cochlear implant user.

Without the cochlear implant, I wouldn’t be able to hear at all. With the implant, as well as years of practice, I can now distinguish human speech. I can hear people as separate voices and not just sounds. Also, I can usually tell one person’s voice from another. Unless the background is very noisy, I can usually carry a conversation with a hearing person.

However, the implant does have some limitations. I can hear music and the radio, and sometimes it sounds all right, and sometimes it’s just noisy. On the radio or TV, I can tell the difference between music and human speech, but I usually cannot understand all the words. Without background music, I can understand songs. Background noise can interfere with my hearing, and when it’s too noisy, it’s hard to follow a conversation. On the phone, voices aren’t always clear. When I listen to an ESL dialogue program on the internet, I can usually understand most of it. The fact that there is always a brief introduction before the dialogue is also quite helpful.

Perhaps you might want to know how I manage in the classroom. If the class is quiet and I’m sitting at the front, I can usually understand the teacher without looking at the interpreter. Of course, it requires a lot of concentration, and more so if the teacher walks around or turns his back to me.

I am now in Grade 8 in high school. The classes aren’t always quiet, so I’m glad that the school provides me with an interpreter so that I don’t miss anything important in class. Otherwise, I’d have a lot of problems.

When you speak face to face with a cochlear implant user, it is best to face him or her and speak naturally and clearly, but not too slowly. Gestures or sign language, if the cochlear implant user does sign, can help too. It is best to begin with something simple and not content-loaded. It’s basically the same thing when you speak to a cochlear implant user over the phone. Speak slowly, but not too slowly, and speak in a clear voice.

The cochlear implant offers many benefits. Without it, I would be completely deaf. With it, I can understand people’s voices and participate in a conversation. But the implant does have its limitations, such as when there is too much background noise or the sound is not clear. When you speak with a cochlear implant user, you should speak slowly and clearly.

With the implant, I am able to hear when I otherwise wouldn’t be able to. I also had to practice a lot and work hard at learning how to hear and then how to speak. My ability to hear as well as I do today is due to a lot of hard work as well as the support of all the doctors, audiologists, speech therapists, and teachers that have worked with me over the years. If you have a friend or a relative of yours who has a cochlear implant, there are many challenges and obstacles to overcome. However, if you persevere, keep an open mind, and work hard, the rewards that you reap will be great.

Thank you for listening to me.

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