Hi, my name is Philipp Heyn, I’m 22 years old and I am from Germany. I have two Cochlear™ Implants and am currently here in Australia studying for a year. Back home in Germany, I study Special Education in Dortmund. I attended a mainstream school, during which I spent my 11th year at high school in the United States. I started university when I was 19 years old.
I was born deaf, or as my doctors put it, hard of hearing in a degree close to deafness. I can hear stuff that is louder than 110 decibels, which basically means nothing. Apparently, the little hair cells in my cochlea are way too short to process sounds within the normal decibel range. Because my parents were worried that I wasn’t responding when they talked to me, my dad put me in front of the stereo and started turning the volume up, until he couldn’t stand the noise anymore. I was still giggling and not taking any notice at all. That was the point when my parents found out that I had a hearing problem, which lead to me getting my first hearing aid within three months. This was very early for “my” time. I did not have any problems learning speech and so I never had to use sign language. When I was five, my parents decided to have me implanted on my right side, which turned out to be a great success.
Later, in 2008, I was implanted on my left side, the Cochlear ear had become so dominant that my left ear just kind of fell asleep over time.
I started studying Special Education because I felt my high school was unprepared when I attended it. Most teachers didn’t understand how to teach a deaf child and I wasn’t confident about my hearing so I didn’t tell anyone I had a hearing problem. I would not say that I had a bad time at school, but I want some things to change and I thought my best chance of doing this would be to work in the business that is closest to the issue – Special Education. At Uni, I started volunteering as part of a team that helps people with disabilities who are studying. This and much more voluntary work is probably what enabled me to win the Graeme Clark Scholarship from Cochlear, making it possible for me to leave Germany and study in Australia for a year. I have been in Australia for seven months now and there are seven more to go!