29, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS COACH/HEAR FOR YOU CO-ORDINATOR
Profound HEARING LOSS, COCHLEAR IMPLANT ON LEFT EAR
I was diagnosed as when I was one year old by a specialist in Holland and was fitted with a cochlear implant at 10 years old. Prior to that I wore hearing aids and identify my hearing loss as profoundly deaf, deaf and/or hearing impaired.
I have never really struggled outwardly or been against accepting my hearing loss because those around me have never used it as a point of difference. However my deaf identity has changed over the years. Now I am fine with telling people in important situations that I can’t understand well without lip-reading, whereas in the past, I would not tell them unless we ran into difficulties communicating.
I have met many lifelong friends through playing tennis both in Australian and International deaf sport. Some of my friends sign and some speak, and even though we are from different backgrounds and different countries, we are all willing to make the effort to communicate. It was a great moment being at the Opening Ceremony after-party at the Australian Deaf Games 2003, and realising I could take off my cochlear implant in the middle of this huge party without worrying about missing out on communication. Everyone else was in the same boat.
I feel grateful for my hearing loss when I need a rest after a busy day or when I go to sleep in noisy situations.
Meeting strangers for the first time is one of my biggest challenges. It’s when I have to concentrate the most. Also day-to-day activities such as going to the shops and making appointments, etc. can be challenging. Also, because of my introverted personality, I have to work hard when presenting in public situations. Unwittingly, I have chosen two jobs that require me to do a fair bit of public speaking so I am up against these challenges constantly but they continue get easier over time.