Saturday, 20 April 2019

Being Part of the Conversation.



When the morning announcements pipe through the walls of Santa Clara High School, students pause, look up for a minute, and listen to what the day has in store for them. But to 16-year-old sophomore Olive Howden, the morning announcements are a daily nuisance. 

That’s because she’s deaf and uses cochlear implants to help her hear. Olive tells us what it’s like to navigate a full day of high school while struggling to be part of the conversation. I’m heading to my first class of the day, journalism. There’s so much happening as I’m walking through the hallways. Simply talking to more than one person at a time is a struggle for me. If you asked me what word I use most often, I would say, "What?" As in, "Can you repeat that?" Because I am constantly missing half of every conversation. 

It's difficult for Howden to hear in crowded, noisy spaces. She prefers to spend time in the quiet, where she can hear the people around her more clearly. (Sruti Mamidanna/KQED) I was born deaf, but I can still hear. Just not the same way as the other 2,000 kids at my high school. Sponsored When I was 18 months old, surgeons implanted tiny computers in my cochlea, my inner ears. The cochlear implants work with processors to do my hearing for me. Basically, I have bionic ears. But apparently, the things I hear sound "tinny," like listening to something on the other end of a metal tunnel. 

At lunch, it's hard to find a quiet place to eat. My friends and I usually sit outside, in the quad. It's still noisy out there, but it's better than the cafeteria. My peers speak at what seems like the speed of light. Somehow, they pick up on things I didn't even realize the person next to me was saying. But my friends are amazing people. They seem to know exactly when to repeat what I didn’t hear.

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