It’s been only five years since 27-year-old, Nick graduated with his degree in industrial design, but it’s a career that has already seen him across projects ranging from designing padding for indoor trampoline centres and truck interiors, through to his current role with a world-leading aluminium company working with window and door elements.
The new year ahead will see Nick apply his design skills a little closer to home, having recently purchased his first house – a “real fixer-upper” – together with his fiancée, Kirsten.
Renovation sites and design warehouses are typically noisy places, but Nick’s ability to hear those sounds is something he doesn’t take for granted.
After having meningitis at the age of one, Nick’s parents discovered that he wasn’t responding to his name. Meningitis had resulted in Nick becoming profoundly deaf in both ears, and ultimately saw him receive a cochlear implant just before his second birthday.
Around that time, Nick said he had vivid memories of travelling with his mum from their home on the Gold Coast up to Brisbane to meet with Hear and Say founder, Dr Dimity Dornan AO.
“My mother and I went to meet with Dimity and see the original Mouse House, and we loved what we saw. We knew this was where we belonged because it had a fantastic learning environment and friendly staff who cared and supported both parents and children,” recalled Nick.
“I have received MAPping [programming] on my implant and attended many different children’s and young adults’ activities over the years. I also went to playgroup every week in the early days, and had sessions with the speech therapists in Brisbane learning how to hear and speak with my implant. In later years l went on to have some sessions and assessments at Hear and Say’s Gold Coast Centre when it opened.”
Fast forward through many advances in technology since the mid-1990s, and Nick said he found the new Bluetooth streaming capacity of his latest cochlear implant processor to be an invaluable feature, particularly for taking phone calls at work.
Nick said the other assistive hearing technology he found most useful was a vibrating bed alarm, which “wakes me up every morning and still gives my partner a massive shock”.
Looking back, Nick said that learning to hear, listen and speak had been essential to shaping his everyday life and interactions.
“As a young child, being able to hear and speak meant l could attend my local preschool, school and sports with my peers, and cope with the listening environment,” said Nick.
“My family has been involved with many sporting organisations and l have participated fully in these. I have gone on to attend university, had casual jobs while studying and then gone onto full-time employment – my cochlear implant makes a tremendous impact on my life.”