I was born with moderate hearing loss. I actually spoke pretty well as a child, and managed to elude my hearing parents by lipreading. When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss in both ears and received hearing aids. By the time I was seven, I was profoundly deaf and was implanted with the cochlear implant for my left ear (back then, funding was available for one implant only).
Since my diagnosis, my parents were very supportive and I had an amazing itinerant teacher who spent her time teaching me how to listen, and empowering me to be more than my hearing loss. However, I spent most of my time in elementary and high school pretending that I did not have hearing loss. This perception of myself started to change when I went into university and developed a better sense of advocacy and self-acceptance.
I studied Professional Writing and Communication at the University of Toronto. In my last year, June 2017, I published a book – Hearing Differently: Growing Up With a Cochlear Implant. This book is a collection of personal short stories about living with hearing loss. Each chapter is a story that is set at a different stage of my life where my hearing loss impacted me.
Since its publication, I learned from my readers how my personal stories provided a look into the struggles, triumphs and lessons I learned in living with hearing loss. This, coupled with my desire to become more of an advocate in the hearing loss community, made me want to do something more.
In April 2019, I launched a resource that I wish I had access to growing up – my blog, Hearing Differently. This blog is a platform where I can share stories about living with hearing loss. I want this blog to be something that others with hearing loss find relatable, and parents, teachers and friends of those with hearing loss will find it educational.
Now, I work in communications at Loblaw Companies Ltd. and am working with VOICE to become a better advocate in the deaf and hard of hearing community. I am working towards having all individuals with hearing loss to be strong advocates for themselves and to be more than their hearing loss.
Thanks for sharing your story Karina! Be sure to check out her new book and blog as mentioned in her spotlight article. As D/HH people we can sure use all the resources we can get on our hands!