When 10 million people from all over the world watched a YouTube video showing Jo Milne’s sobbing response to her new cochlear implants, most assumed they were a deaf woman’s tears of joy and elation at being able to hear for the first time.
However, the truth was a little more complicated. They were also tears of anguish and relief because Milne knew she was gradually going blind, and if the implants hadn’t worked she may soon have been imprisoned in a world that was both silent and dark.
That shaky amateur footage, filmed on a mobile phone by her mother Ann in the audiologist’s office, became one of the world’s most watched internet videos of 2014 and catapulted Milne, now 42, into high-profile charity campaigning.
“Most viewers of that YouTube video won’t have realised the real reason behind my reaction to the cochlear implants,” admits Milne, from Gateshead. “As a deaf person, I had always used my eyes to communicate, and the thought of totally losing my sight was truly terrifying.
Most viewers of that YouTube video won’t have realised the real reason behind my reaction to the cochlear implants. “The way I describe my sight, it’s like seeing the world through a letterbox or a tunnel that is gradually getting smaller and smaller.