I was born with a bilateral profound hearing loss and I was outfitted with hearing aids and FM systems; I also had a teacher’s assistant and 11 years of speech therapy.
I grew up refusing to accept the word “no” for an answer, and was mainstreamed in public school before starting the high school homeschooling curriculum. While homeschooled, I was active with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and accomplished the highest rank possible with numerous awards. In addition, I worked for four years part-time as a lifeguard/swimming instructor.
From there, I went to university in Front Royal, Virginia, to complete a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy. During the first year of university, I lost the use of my left ear and then the use of my right ear the following year. After graduation, I returned home to Alberta to enroll in the Cochlear Implant Program and I went in for surgery in April 2001.
Currently, I use the cochlear implant quite successfully! This allowed me to start up my own company in real estate appraising for two years before shutting it down to move onto bigger ventures. I went on to become a manager for Edmonton’s largest garden center. Two years later, I left for Vancouver to work for a special project in helping persons with disabilities in the workforce.
From there, I went to work for Accenture to provide computer support for BC Hydro. Taking a break one summer, I assisted in a landscaping business as a managing owner\partner. Today I am back in Vancouver, B.C. with the Justice Institute of British Columbia as the Senior Manager of Information Technology. In addition, I’m proud to announce that my wife and I are expecting our second baby girl in June!
Shortly after I was implanted, my the ability to hear better than what I got with my hearing aids, it motivated me to volunteer in my spare time. I joined the CHHA Edmonton branch and from there, I have been involved with the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association since 2001 in many different roles. In 2006, I was elected to BC Chapter as Vice-President and in 2007 assisted in reviving the Vancouver Branch where I was also elected Vice-President. I participated in the National Task Force for Electoral and Governance Review along with the Disability Tax Credit working group for CHHA National.
Thanks for sharing your story Michael! We at PSP have a couple of questions for you that might be helpful for readers.
1) What advice would you give to the younger generation about managing your hearing loss?
Michael: I sought help from other people to help me get where I am today, and likewise be not afraid to ask for help.
2) Could you give some tips on how you overcame communication challenges?
M: I leverage the cochlear implant to overcome communication challenges daily. I’m in a career where email and instant messaging is dominated.