Speak Up! E4: Cochlear Implants & Self-Acceptance

“I felt like the crucial thing was about self-identity and yourself identity, hearing loss is part of it, but the other part of it is also about a sense of competence, it’s something that really matter to me, like, what do I stand for?” – Peng 

Have you ever felt alone? That you are the only one with hearing loss and hate that difference?  

Well today, Catherine, Jason and Kaelan got a chance to sit down and interview Le Peng Tee the founder of the Cochlear Implant (CI) project. Peng was born deaf in both ears, and is a longtime cochlear implant user in his 20s.  

He founded the CI Project, which aims to empower CI users towards self-acceptance and promote greater awareness of the unique experiences CI users face, after experiencing a lack of support in Malaysia where he was one of the first people to receive a cochlear implant. Because of this, Peng didn’t have someone who he could turn to for advice or relate to. However due to his own experience, Peng started the CI project which connects CI users on sharing their experience.

As a CI user, Kaelan, one of the podcast’s hosts shared with us her thoughts on making episode 4: 

As a CI user, I personally have related to Peng’s experience of feeling alone because of my differences from my peers as hearing loss something that is not relatable between us. Previously, I had restricted myself from talking about my hearing loss with others because it felt uncomfortable trying to explain my experiences to people without a hearing loss. For a long time, I felt like I had tried to hide that part of my identity. However, over the years I have found that by being open about my hearing loss, I have found myself a strong support system of friends and family who want to, and are willing to, learn more about my needs or issues. This personal experience has taught me that by accepting yourself, it opens doors to more opportunities and experiences. This is why I think Peng’s project is CI important for people with hearing losses as it allows them to connect with others on issues that may be unique to them. This will help CI users feel connected rather than that sense of loneliness. It also allows them accept their CIs as part of them, rather than try to blend into the background leading towards a journey of self-growth and acceptance. 

Explore the difference between CI and hearing aids, what it means to have a CI user, and discuss the desire for “normalcy,’’ versus the journey to self-acceptance by watching/listening to the episode here.