ANA MARIA

38, Actress

Profoundly Deaf in the right ear, Moderate to Severe hearing loss in the left

"When I take my hearing aids out its almost like the front part of my brain has to work a little harder. Everything moves to the back of my head and I really need to focus on bringing the vibration forward to the front of my face.

Your vocal chords create vibrations which get sent through the rest of your body through your bones. You can become more aware of pitch control and volume control by actually becoming more in tune with your body. You feel it. Not just with your hands but through your whole body."

 

I don't like the term hearing impaired or hard of hearing. So I say I'm deaf. I was 14 when I realised I had no hearing in my right ear. I was playing with a musical Christmas card and put it up to my right ear: Nothing. I thought it was broken. Then I switched it to my left ear. And that's when I knew. 

As a child I don't remember it really being an issue. The change in my hearing loss happened gradually so I didn't notice it and I was amazing at lip reading. Four years ago when I had a sudden and significant drop in my hearing it was a huge shock and I didn't cope with it well at all. I became very depressed when they told me I would need hearing aids. That was a hard day. I knew it would happen at some point: Maybe 65; Not at 35. That was hard. It took a very long time for me to get used to it but now I am super comfortable and proud of my abilities. 

I did a masterclass with Larry Moss, an acting guru from the USA. He welcomed me back into the world again and showed me that what I thought was a hinderance, was in fact, a god send. He helped me embrace my deafness. I started learning Auslan 2 years ago and I love it. It has opened up so many possibilities. 

Once I accepted my hearing loss I saw that there were others struggling and that they saw my journey as an inspiration to them. I am so grateful (almost everyday at the moment) that my hearing loss has helped someone else find a way through. It is the proudest thing I can do.

I feel like hearing people are quick to judge what is possible for someone suffering hearing loss. That is the biggest obstacle. I love breaking down their challenges and proving that there are no limits. The best way to overcome the challenges is by being positive and creative. Teaching people that it's about listening. Not hearing. You can listen with other parts of your body.