It's a tiny, brown box with a molded piece of plastic sticking out - it can make a huge racket when turned on ... this invention has aided me in overcoming a handicap ... it's a hearing aid or to be more accurate, two hearing aids. Many people actually do know what it is like to be unable to hear anything (when they have a cold and their ears are clogged up), but they still take this ability for granted. If hearing aids had not been invented, my life would be completely different.
When I was very young, maybe two years old, I was diagnosed with a sensorineural hearing loss. My mother cried when she found out - she wanted her son to be happy and able to experience everything life had to offer. I went to a special playgroup twice a week where a supervisor discovered I had taught myself to read. I then attended a school for the deaf from age three to six.
I remember looking around the room there. People talked and signed to each other. I had a best friend and I did very well in class. I fit in, but I didn't. I told my mother that I wanted to go to the regular elementary school with hearing people, because I felt more like a hearing person than a hearing-impaired one ... I didn't even use sign language! I lip-read and listened with my hearing aids. After visiting public school for a day, my mother agreed to let me go. Needless to say, I have functioned very well.
Many people don't even know I am hearing-impaired until they see my hearing aids. My girlfriend often forgets that I have any problem, and I feel fortunate that she is not biased against people like me. The only problem I have with this hearing loss is that some people discriminate against me. The fact is I am just as normal as anyone else. The only differences are that others need to speak up, and I have some help from my hearing aids. I appreciate and enjoy music. The next time you see hearing-impaired people, don't feel sorry for them - that just gives them an excuse to victimize themselves and hurt their own potential. Instead, encourage them and tell them that a handicap only hurts a person if he or she lets it. t
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.