July 23, 2019. Many people are under the misconception that only older people have hearing loss. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s one of the reasons why it is wrong to ignore hearing loss issues. Ensuring that hearing accessibility supports, such as hearing loops and real time captioning, are in place should be a priority.
At a recent meeting, our guest speaker was Colin Mackenzie of Graham’s Road, who just graduated from high school. Colin is planning to go to St. Mary’s University in Halifax in the fall to study criminology and forensics. As a person with hearing loss, he will need hearing accessibility support in order to be successful in his studies.
Colin explained that he became totally deaf at 2.5 months of age, but about 40% of his hearing returned shortly after that. He was fitted with hearing aids at 18 months of age and then began working with Auditory Verbal Therapist Cheryl Perry. She inspired him and his mother and gave them hope that all would be okay.
With his family’s encouragement, Colin never backed away from activities because of his disability. He played hockey for a couple of years and had inserts cut in his helmet so he could wear his hearing aids and an FM system. He participated in Canskate and Scouts and Curling. In 2018 and 2019, he and his team represented PEI at three National Curling Championships, the Under18s, and the Canada Winter Games. Signals have been worked out in curling so he does not have to be able to hear the calls.
Colin said he also took swimming lessons but since he couldn’t wear his hearing aids, he had to follow signals. He played in the school band from Grade 8 until graduation. Colin noted that his friends are pretty considerate, making sure that they look right at him when they are speaking because they know that he reads lips.
Over the years, Colin has attended a few conferences for youth with hearing loss, including one in Ottawa where he began making friends with others with hearing loss. (See Young Adults Can Also Have Hearing Loss)
While at school, Colin used several coping strategies including letting teachers know of his hearing loss. He always asked the teachers to be careful where they placed the FM mikes, because if they wore long jewellery, or had clothing rubbing up against the mike, it made it very painful for Colin to listen to. Unfortunately, none of the schools he attended used hearing loop technology. (See The Sound Through A Hearing Loop)
An engaging young man, Colin also took the time to show his support for the petition that had been circulating to request a policy change in the PEI government to supplement the availability of hearing aid funding by extending the AccessAbility Supports Program to include all adults, not just those up to age 65, or devise a similar program. (See Petition Presented In PEI Legislature)
Colin is one of many children and youth living with hearing loss. They are bright and innovative, and want to make their lives as close as possible to those of their friends. Unlike many people who hide their hearing loss, they accept it as part of themselves.
Remy Eichner, a young woman from Utah, developed a helmet for people with cochlear implants. “The helmets allow people with implants to ride a bike, ride a horse or ski while protecting their heads with a helmet”, she commented in an article. See https://www.parkrecord.com/news/student-develops-helmet-for-people-with-cochlear-implant/
Jason Trotter of the United Kingdom notes that “Hearing aids have given me so much confidence in speaking and listening to people without having to feel left out or isolated for missing what was being said.” Read his story at https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/health/deaf-plymouth-jason-trotter-hearing-1971604
What an inspiration these young people are! Do you have a story to share? You can email us at email@example.com or comment on this blog. You can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI
© Daria Valkenburg