I was chosen as part of a project run by Molly Watt Trust with the support and collaboration of GN Hearing and Sarah Vokes of Correct hearing in Nottingham.
In February 2020 I was assessed and fitted with Resound Linx Quattro smart hearing aids, the gift of sound.
I’ve now been wearing these amazing devices for a year and in a word ‘Amazed’ at what they have given me. To start with I had a lot of learning to do hearing so many new sounds and frequencies my brain took a while to process everything and for the first 6 months or so I was like a baby learning how the world sounded again and constantly asking those around me what certain sounds were! I’ve also never had surround sound like this before its fascinating to me to be able hear something and pin point it exactly, for someone with tunnel vision this helps more than you’d realise and I feel so much safer for it too. Knowing what’s going on around me when I'm out and about keeping me aware and secure in my surroundings.
I can mention the little things like I never knew my washing machine and tumble dryer beeped when they are done, its a high tone I could never hear before, although it took me a while to figure out that’s what it was as I was still learning what things sounded like, I can hear a tap dripping and a clock ticking, so much so I had to buy a new lounge clock as the ticking became quite troublesome so now I have a silent clock although the previous one I’d had for years without issue so shows how little I really heard!
Also much to my daughters annoyance I can hear her upstairs I can hear her singing and dancing away in her room totally oblivious to me downstairs but I love it as she won’t sing in front of me so we will keep that one quiet! When I'm out in the streets or busy town centres I can hear traffic and people all around me I can hear the beep at the road crossings I can even hear someone far away calling my name to get my attention if they’ve spotted me as I’d miss them usually.
When I went back to see Sarah at Correct Hearing for a 6 month check and a few tweaks as I’d adapted more to the new sounds she ran a hearing test, I’d actually improved by a small but significant amount in my hearing for the first time ever in my life! Sarah explained this is due to my brain hearing so many new sounds it simply never had access to before so my range had improved and my brain had learned and helped my natural hearing, something I really did not expect and was quiet emotional at the fact so was my father who attended with me as we both knew my hearing was never going to improve or get better but it just showed that the right technology can in fact help in the right circumstances.
With the pandemic hitting its meant my life has changed as for us all. Our ways of working have changed so much, for me it meant I had to rely on my phone and laptop a lot more so the bluetooth feature built into the Linx Quattro hearing aids has become an invaluable tool. I can hold phone calls without issue and also listen to webinars or videos directly as well as hold video meetings with not only work but friends and family meaning I was able to be fully inclusive throughout. Another perk is listening to podcasts something I never did as it was so inaccessible to me but now I listen daily without issue as I can just press play and it streams straight into my ears, the same for music but my daughter isn’t such a fan when I start singing out loud!
A year with these amazing gifts have been life changing, they have changed the way I work and live daily from not having to worry about my batteries dying to being able to answer a call and hear crisp clear sounds something I never had before and now I'm sure I take for granted but gladly so as someone born deaf with limited vision due to Usher Syndrome its meant I'm almost on a level playing field in the world now rather than always being left behind or missing out because its too much trouble to others to adapt to make others included, I can now take control of that and ensure I'm involved and included thanks to these hearing aids. That is something when growing up with analogue hearing aids I never thought I would have or even be proud of being deaf or wearing hearing aids, this technology has given me pride and confidence in my hearing loss and I'm certainly proud these days to show off these amazing hearing aids.
Once again huge thanks again to GN Hearing, Correct Hearing Sarah Vokes and of course The Molly Watt Trust.
When I wrote my Applewatch blog back in April this year, I had no idea of the interest it would generate, nor the amazing people or companies it would lead me to.
I felt so proud that my blog led to many people with Usher Syndrome, deafblind, blind or deaf considering buying the Applewatch and also so many that have bought it and like me enjoy it's fantastic features.
Thank you to all who have sent me such positive feedback.
I was shocked by the interest from all around the world and flattered by the amount of media interest and the many who contacted me direct, curious about Usher Syndrome and accessibility.
However, for me personally it brought something very special, a company full of fantastic people and a product that together with my Applewatch and iPhone has completely changed my life, Linx2.
GN ReSound came into my life as a result of my Applewatch blog. Until then I had never heard of the company and knew nothing of their amazing Linx2 hearing aids.
For me they came to life on Twitter, I saw their advert advertising the Linx2 to be fully compatible and connective to both iPhone and Applewatch.
I researched further and, I guess as they say the rest is history.
Being fitted with the Linx2 my life has changed so much.
I love that I can adjust my hearing aids myself, to suit the environment, to suit me, I have complete control over what I hear and what I don't. For the first time in my life deafness and environment do not dictate what I can and cannot do, what sound I can or cannot access.
The telephone is something I'd struggled with over the years. Feedback made even trying to communicate on the phone a complete nightmare but I had made use of either text or FaceTime to connect with others, two useful forms of communication open to deaf people but not in a work environment.
Those limitations are now gone thanks to Linx2 and not only can I use a telephone I have bluetooth connectivity which means I'm able to pair hearing aids with iPhone and (lots of other things too) I feel a phone call on my wrist thanks to taptics, press my Applewatch, to connect and I hear clear sound directly into my ears. I can stream music directly into my ears, I can alter bass and treble, I can vary so many things on the ReSound app on Applewatch and I am safe.
I have worried about my iPhone being taken snatched from my hand on a busy street full of people I cannot see, but not any more, my iPhone stays safely tucked away in my bag.
My confidence has grown and I'm able to venture to new places using this incredible technology.
Seeing danger is virtually impossible for me these days but now I can hear it, I know where sounds are coming from and as a result I feel safer which makes me feel so much more able
You completed the picture for me, by allowing me to access the incredible Linx2 hearing aids.
I feel both grateful and very humbled that you have not only taken an interest in me but also such an interest in Usher Syndrome and the work I do raising awareness of the condition.
We are a group of people who often feel overlooked and misunderstood and yet with the right understanding, support and equipment we are very capable, our biggest obstacle is often accessing the necessary equipment!
Since being fitted with my Linx2 hearing aids in May this year I have developed a fantastic relationship with the team in Bicester and was flabbergasted to be invited to be a part of their recent roadshow, it was an ideal platform for me to raise awareness of Usher Syndrome, of my charity The Molly Watt Trust and for me to demonstrate exactly how life changing their products are.
I am no longer isolated by my deafness. I am still deaf but the enhancement I experience every day with Linx2 has been truly overwhelming.
When, like me, you are down to only 5% of useful vision and no cure in sight (excuse the pun) the best available technology to enhance hearing should be a necessity for the deafblind.
So thank you ReSound, your technology is fantastic, I cannot imagine life without Linx2 now and I know things will only get better and better.
Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to support me and my charity, I will be eternally grateful.