As one of the first children to attend Hear and Say back in 1992, Megan has witnessed the radical changes in hearing technology across the past three decades.
“It’s incredible to see how far cochlear implant and hearing aid technology has come, even in my lifetime,” reflected Megan, who will celebrate her 30th birthday later this year.
“When I got my first cochlear implant, I had a box that I’d wear with a cord attached to my implant on my head. Over time the processor got smaller and smaller and now it just sits behind the ear.”
Born profoundly deaf, Megan’s hearing loss was diagnosed at 15 months old – a common story in the era before hospital-based universal newborn hearing screening, now standard for all Australian babies.
“We didn’t have any family history of hearing loss, so I think Mum and Dad were very shocked,” said Megan.
“I was apparently a very happy baby and seemed to react to things the way other babies would. One day I was looking out the window in my cot, and my parents were making noise and banging pans but I wasn’t responding – that’s when they first knew that something was going on.”
Megan went on to have hearing aids fitted shortly after. She began attending Hear and Say for specialised speech therapy, known as listening and spoken language therapy, as well as audiology and group programs. By three years old, she had her first cochlear implant and chose to have a second implant on her left ear at age 15.
Advances in technology and the support of her “village” certainly ensured Megan’s hearing loss didn’t hold her back, from participating in a range of sports and creative pursuits, to attending a local school in Japan when her family relocated for a year, to travelling around Europe with friends.
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art majoring in jewellery and small objects and a Bachelor of Design majoring in product design, Megan went on to launch an online jewellery business, Emardii, and is a support worker for people with disabilities.
“If I didn’t have that access to Hear and Say, my life would be very different to what it is now. It’s opened up so many doors for me,” said Megan.
“The biggest gift that Hear and Say’s founder, Dimity Dornan gave my parents when I was first diagnosed was hope. At the time they thought that me being able to hear and speak was not within reach, but with Dimity’s positivity and encouragement, they reignited my parents’ dreams for me.
“Hear and Say taught us about how hearing, listening and speaking could be possible for a child born deaf, and this quickly became a reality.”