Hearing loss changemaker Alana Nichols

Alana Nichols TV producer and host Taiwan

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“I was born profoundly deaf with a common cavity malformation. Although there was no newborn hearing screening at the time, my parents discovered my hearing loss early, but it took them over a year of searching globally to find a surgeon who would operate on me. Every doctor my mother saw refused to operate after seeing the malformations in my X-rays. Finally, a surgeon in Australia agreed to perform the experimental surgery despite grim expectations. Fortunately, the surgery was a success and my cochlear implant was switched on at the age of two-and-a-half. I immediately began intense verbal therapy, yet did not speak a single word for over ten months. My mother recalls my first ‘word’ being “ow” as I tried to ask her to sit down. 

Every day, I’m challenged by my unique hearing and communication needs. I’ve had trouble talking to taxi drivers, listening on the phone, and understanding conversations in noisy environments. At school, I struggled to hear my teachers and took measures to advocate for my needs such as sitting in the front of the class and frequently asking questions.  

My advice to anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing is to accept yourself for who you are and find peers who will do the same. Then, with help from them and your family if possible, live each day without giving up.” 

Alana is a Changemaker who supports the call in the World Report on Hearing for hearing care for all, now. Help change the world for those with hearing loss by sharing her story.