Turning 21 in 2021 feels like a positive sign to Maria, whose plans this year include juggling work, study and getting her driver licence.
Currently studying a Bachelor of Business and Design and working as a retail assistant in the fashion industry, Maria’s year is shaping up to be a busy one.
“I am interested in so many different pathways which excites me for the future,” said Maria.
Born with profound hearing loss in both ears, Maria was 13 months old when she had her first cochlear implant in her left ear.
Now using two cochlear implants, Maria said she was “beyond grateful” for the many opportunities her hearing technology had opened up – particularly her latest processors which mean she can stream calls and media using Bluetooth.
“I can now stream music seamlessly to both my ears, and if my phone rings, it will switch to my implants and I can have an easy, clear conversation regardless of the noise level around me,” said Maria.
By chance, Maria’s parents first discovered Hear and Say at an Australia Day barbecue – somewhat symbolically surrounded by the chatter and chaotic noise of children running around and having fun.
Maria went on to attend years of specialised speech therapy at Hear and Say known as listening and spoken language therapy, and participated in peer Group Social Skills programs including COMET and STAR. She continues to visit the Brisbane centre for ongoing support and management for her cochlear implants and annual audiology assessments.
“Without the wonderful gift of sound, I would not have attended a mainstream school and university, and would not be able to socialise with my friends, listen to music or watch TV shows – all things I love to do,” said Maria.
“Being able to hear, listen and speak means my job opportunities aren’t limited, and I feel connected to the world. It is hard to imagine a different life.”