Ettalong resident thriving with cochlear implant during Hearing Awareness Week

22/08/16
For primary school teacher and Ettalong Beach resident, Victoria Bird, a cochlear implant has proved life changingFor primary school teacher and Ettalong Beach resident, Victoria Bird, a cochlear implant has proved life changing

During Hearing Awareness Week, 21 – 27 August, 2016, RIDBC is reminding those who are struggling to hear, even with hearing aids, that they could benefit from a cochlear implant.

Today, one in six Australians is deaf or hearing impaired or has a chronic ear disorder. As technology advances, there are more possibilities than ever before for Australians with hearing loss to be included in all aspects of community and business life.

Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants don't just make sounds louder. They mimic the natural hearing function of the inner ear through electronic stimulation.

"If you wear hearing aids, but you still struggle to hear in social settings, or are no longer able to hear children's voices clearly, then a cochlear implant could be for you," said RIDBC Audiologist, Jane Brew.

"At SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, a service of RIDBC, we see many people who thought that hearing aids were the only option available to them. However with implantable technology like the cochlear implant, that isn't the case.”

For primary school teacher and Ettalong Beach resident, Victoria Bird, a cochlear implant has been life changing. She received her first pair of hearing aids shortly after being diagnosed with hearing loss at three years of age.

"When I first started working as a teacher I definitely had to adapt – like making sure I could hear the evacuation alarm – but I was coping quite well," said Victoria. "I previously hadn't been considered a candidate for a cochlear implant – but then over the course of a year I started to find it difficult to hear in the classroom and it was leaving me pretty exhausted."

A new round of assessments found that Victoria's hearing had deteriorated.

"It was time for an implant," said Victoria. "I had the surgery over the Christmas school holidays and was back to work in the New Year. I didn’t have high expectations as I didn’t want to be disappointed, but when my dad spoke to me I could understand what he was saying! I said, 'Oh my goodness, I can hear the ‘S’ and 'SH’ sounds' - I really hadn’t heard them well before.

"The surgery was a massive success. It’s amazing the things I can hear now - like the sound of the fridge! There are lots of amazing experiences and some hilarious ones too. I once leant too close to the whiteboard and my head stuck to it due to the implant's magnet, the kids were in stiches!

"It’s been a long journey but it’s been worth it. The staff at SCIC Cochlear Implant Program in Gosford have been amazing - I can contact them at any time and ask them questions. In the classroom it’s made a huge difference. Previously I had to have to rush off early to make sure that I got a seat up the front in meetings so I could lip read but now I don’t have to rush, I can sit at the back and still pick it all up!"

SCIC Cochlear Implant Program supports clients to access a range of implantable hearing devices according to their needs. The program provides a seamless, end-to-end suite of services, from early intervention and education; through to specialist assessment; surgical liaison and support; and rehabilitation services, delivering the highest level of care and support to people of all ages.

With 18 sites across Australia, RIDBC enables you to access services from any one of our centres. For those in regional and remote locations, our advanced videoconferencing and device mapping technology enables us to deliver services directly into your home, no matter where you live.
For more information about cochlear implants and the support services available, visit ridbc.org.au/scic or call 1300 658 981.

RIDBC is a charity and Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education and cochlear implant services for people with vision or hearing loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year.

RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in people's lives.