Implant Is Allowing The Deaf To Hear

Thursday, September 27th 2007, 5:56 pm
By: News On 6

It is deaf awareness week and one of the technological discoveries most responsible for improving hearing is the cochlear implant. The News On 6’s Rick Wells discovered a support group at the University of Tulsa, and one of the group's founders discovered sound and with it, lots of surprises.

Robert Williams is 37 and he has two cochlear implants that allow him to hear.

"I really like listening to music," cochlear implant patient Robert Williams said.

He has an MP3 player that plugs into the processor behind his right ear. He says he's catching up on 80s music he missed when he was a kid.

Williams has been working with Dr. Carol Lambert, an Assistant Professor of Audiology at TU, she is helping him get the most out of this hearing technology. In fact, they've started a support group.

"I don't know of any support groups for cochlear implants in the state of Oklahoma. I think we are the only one," Dr. Carol Lambert said.

Cochlear implants are surgically implanted electronic devises. They convert sound to electrical impulses, then the brain interprets those impulses. It takes some training to recognize what the sounds are. Robert says before the implant he "listened" to others by reading their lips. He says it was exhausting.

"It's like reading a book all day long," Williams said.

The implants have given him hearing and along with it, lots of surprises.

“The sound that surprised me most was my walking," said Robert Williams.

He didn't know he made a noise when he walked, his wife's voice was nothing like he expected and he thought he worked in a quiet office.

"Everything was noisy," Williams said.

The computer, the air conditioner, of course he says there are times when he'd like to turn the sound off, but he says his ability to hear now is a wonderful gift and a story he loves to share.

The Cochlear Implant Support group at the University of Tulsa meets the fourth Thursday of every month. There's a special program at the September 27th meeting on the implants and how they work. For more information you can call 631-2504.

Watch the video: Deaf Awareness Week