Video: Woman Hears Own Voice For First Time in 29 Years

I was just sent this video by a friend of a 29-year-old woman who is filmed as she hears her own voice for the first time with the use of an ear implant.

The advances in such technology has triggered a backlash among some advocates for the deaf who insist it is wrong and fails to recognize deafness as a different culture rather than a disability.

26 thoughts on “Video: Woman Hears Own Voice For First Time in 29 Years”

  1. Otteray,
    She would have still had a deaf accent. Also, if she is hearing her own voice for the first time then she was profoundly deaf. I have been around enough deaf and hard of hearing people to know what I am talking about. Do you?

  2. Thanks for posting this. There has been so much bad news lately that it’s a struggle to not become depressed. But seeing this makes me realize how much we take for granted and how miraculous everyday things are. I heard a quote once that said something to the effect of “there are two ways to live your life, as if nothing is a miracle or as if everything is.”

  3. erykah, if you read above, it was revealed that she had some hearing and had used hearing aids. She was legally deaf, not totally deaf.

    If she had been totally deaf, the auditory processing centers of the brain would probably have never developed adequately enough to allow the implant to work.

    The headline about “hearing her own voice for the first time” is undoubtedly not completely true, but a bit of editorial hyperbole. She had just never heard it clearly or very loud.

  4. This is the biggest hoax going. I have a 17 year old deaf son and have been involved in the deaf community for many years. People who are deaf have what they call a deaf accent. This 29 year old woman whom they claim to have heard herself for the first time has no deaf accent. She speaks far too clearly for someone who has been deaf all of her life. Sorry, this is not real here. Even the deaf actress Marlee Matlin, whom some would label as hard of hearing, doesn’t speak this clearly. I believe in miracles, but this one is a bit too much for me.

  5. Otteray,

    “She only speaks a few words, but her speech appears to be atypical of persons who have been totally deaf.”

    I thought the same thing too.


    “Aha…..legally deaf and totally deaf are two different things.”

    Just as legally blind and totally blind are two different things.

  6. I have had hearing impaired clients and customers in the past and some of them were very militant and refused help. They did consider themselves to be a separate community or culture.

  7. Aha…..legally deaf and totally deaf are two different things. She had worn hearing aids until they were no longer helping. That is why her speech was relatively normal sounding and also explains why the speech centers in the brain were functioning.

  8. A CBS story on Sarah Churman is here:

    Deaf woman hears her voice with new hearing implant

    “I had an implant put in 8 weeks ago called The Esteem Implant by Envoy Medical. I was born deaf and have worn hearing aids from the age of 2, but hearing aids only help so much. I have gotten by this long in life by reading lips. This was taken as they were activating the implant.”

    The high-tech Esteem implant is embedded in her ear and works off of ear drum vibrations, unlike most hearing aids which use microphones and speakers. Sarah may have been able to hear some things before, but never like this. The joy and tears on her face can attest to that.

  9. OS,

    I guess I read that and did not Fully comprehend that there could actually be some that are so strongly opposed other people having the ability to hear…In some aspect, I have led a sheltered life….

  10. Very moving, thank you.

    The FDA took an extra 4 years to approve this device even after it was aproved elsewhere in the world, including the EU in 2006. That delay had significant consequences for those waiting for care options here, and on the price of the device itself.

    In Canada the wait times are long, affecting the hearing development of very young children:

    And in the UK, thousands have waited more than a year just to schedule initial testing.

  11. AY, note the Professor’s last paragraph. Yes, that is true. Not all deaf persons feel that way, but there is a large militant contingent who make a lot of noise about it.

  12. OS,

    I do not think I fully understand this: “The part I do not really understand is the militancy of some in the non-hearing community who would deny hearing to their children or to others.”


    Am I to take it that ones that are deaf do not want the children to hear? If so, I did not know…

  13. I am not convinced. She only speaks a few words, but her speech appears to be atypical of persons who have been totally deaf. I wonder if she lost her hearing or was simply hard of hearing and not totally deaf. Nal is correct in his assessment. If she had total loss of hearing, the auditory processing part of her brain would be either undeveloped or underdeveloped.

    The part I do not really understand is the militancy of some in the non-hearing community who would deny hearing to their children or to others.

  14. nal:

    there is a good chance it will develop. the brain is plastic and the potential should be there.

    ” “The brain is incredibly adaptable. In someone who is deaf, the young brain takes advantage of valuable real estate in the brain by processing vibrations in the part of the brain that would otherwise be used to process sound,” Shibata says.

    Shibata performed the research while on the faculty at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York. The deaf students in the study came from the National Technical Institute of the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Shibata used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare brain activity between 10 volunteers from the college and 11 volunteers with normal hearing. They agreed to let Shibata scan their brains while subjected to intermittent vibrations on their hands.

    Both groups showed brain activity in the part of the brain that normally processes vibrations. But in addition, the deaf students showed brain activity in a golf ball-sized area, the auditory cortex, otherwise usually only active during auditory stimulation. The people with normal hearing did not show such brain activity.”

  15. nal,

    I need to ask you why. Why do you think that this is too late?

  16. 29 years old is a little late to be getting a cochlear implant. The hearing interpretation part of her brain has never developed. I am surprised that doctors would have approved her operation.

  17. This is great news…..

    Now if we could just get folks that already have the ability to hear to actually think….But then I read somewhere something about….Eyes that hear but do not see….

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