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Michael Allen

32, Auckland

I was born profoundly deaf and wore hearing aids from a very young age. I couldn’t hear much with my hearing aids so I relied on lip reading and my incredibly supportive family to get through those early years. My biggest struggles were in group conversations and following what people were saying in the classroom and other noisy places. I would arrive home exhausted from concentrating all day.

At 16 I qualified for a cochlear implant and never looked back. They say having a cochlear implant is like hearing in colour after living in a world of black and white. All of a sudden I could hear many new sounds, such as the cicadas outside my bedroom window and the light switches clicking on and off. I was even able to start using the telephone for the first time in my life.

Ten years later my grandparents funded a second cochlear implant. This was like going from a world of colour to 3D. Hearing in surround sound has made me more confident at work and socially. After a lot of hard work, I don’t have to strain as much to follow conversations in background noise.  
My cochlear implants have opened many doors. I was able to become head boy at my high school and later graduated with a degree in communications. I have also travelled the globe, living and working in the UK and volunteering in Kenya and Thailand. Today I am happily married and working in communications.