OLIVER

20, Media + Marketing Student

Mild to Moderate hearing loss

"I became a lot more conscious of my hearing aids when girls came on the scene. In my head I was like I'm all good apart from that. 

I don't want to be defined by them. First impressions are important and people judge. "

I have a mild to moderate bilateral hearing loss but I say I am hearing impaired. I was diagnosed when I was 3 years old. I have a twin brother and mum and dad were noticing that I wasn’t responding as well as my twin to calls or questions. Initially they thought it was glue ear but after being operated on it was confirmed that I had nerve damage that was the basis for my hearing loss.

I have two hearing aids and I remember the sensation of being overwhelmed with sound when I was first fitted at around 3 or 4 years old. I also remember being amazed at what sounds I had been missing out on. Because I was so young I didn’t really have a choice about wearing hearing aids, or a struggle with accepting my deafness. However, as I grew up I developed a real issue with accepting my deafness. Even to this day, I still haven’t fully accepted the fact that I am hearing impaired.  

I think I realised at school that people could be very judgmental about what a hearing loss entails. A lot of people think that having a hearing loss is indicative of having a wider range of difficulties. I have always been good with people, but I felt they didn’t give me a chance because they were uneducated about hearing loss. I always found it hard that people with glasses never got a whole host of assumptions made about them. But because I had a hearing loss I was immediately approached with a bit of caution. I think the fact that I can get away with not wearing my hearing aids by lip reading (combined with this sense of wanting to be super normal) has culminated in me not feeling confident about how I approach my hearing loss.

My sister also has a hearing loss and which is far more profound than mine.  But the way she has accepted her deafness and knows how important her hearing aids are to her success has really helped me to accept my deafness. My girlfriend Pia has also been a massive help. She is the first girl that I have dated that has wanted to have open conversations about my deafness and how it affects me. I think knowing that I can be loved and appreciated by someone who understands how I feel about being deaf is a huge help.

I played for the Australian Deaf Soccer team at Sydney Olympic Park last year. Singing the national anthem with some of the nicest guys I’ve had the pleasure of playing sport with was a seriously proud moment.

My hearing loss is at such a level that I haven’t experienced massive challenges at school or work but I think my greatest challenge is one that I put on myself. I often think that if I wear hearing aids I won’t be treated the same. Socially big groups are hard, as I can’t rely on lip reading one person and then switching to a range of speakers. I think developing the skill of lip reading has really helped me with my day-to-day dealings with being deaf. However, I still feel I have a lot of work to do in accepting my deafness.