Hearing loss can be a debilitating experience. Affecting 1 in every 7 Australians and 3 out of 4 people over the age of 70, hearing loss is more common than people think. Unlike deafness, hearing loss can be supplemented with the use of hearing aids. For some people, having a disability such as hearing loss or deafness will hamper any successes or achievements in their lifetime. This isn’t true in the slightest. Here is a list of people who have been diagnosed with hearing impairment or deafness but have still managed to go on to be successful in their field.
Kicking off the list is Australia’s second longest serving prime minister John Howard, as the head of the Liberal party between the years of 1996 to 2007. Howard has relied on devices since the age of nineteen after suffering a hearing impairment in his youth which left him with a slight speech impediment. However, the disability has benefited him in subtle ways by encouraging a reliance on an excellent memory, as well as causing him to develop an assertive speaking voice to compensate for the lack of hearing. In fact, he credits his hearing impairment with political success.
One of life’s higher achievers, Elizabeth Richmond sings opera, is a talented artist and gifted musician. On top of that, she is an avid golfer and is also a former skier on the Austrian Kitzbuhel slopes and Falls Creek, Australia. Moreover, she was diagnosed with severe hearing loss over fifteen years ago, a condition that started seven years before she was diagnosed. Only when the disability started to interfere with her work as a physiotherapist did she get it checked out and was fitted with hearing devices. With the current advances in technology, Richmond is able to indulge one of her favourite pastimes: music. She is now able to finetune her notes and improve remarkably since. She urges people to get themselves checked out and fitted if find themselves suffering from hearing impairment.
A familiar face on TV, this Australian television and radio presenter and journalist is best known for hosting the reality TV series The Bachelor Australia, The Bachelorette Australia and Bachelor in Paradise Australia. Moreover, he is also the narrator of Bondi Rescue. With over 2 decades on TV under his belt, it’s hard to believe that the charismatic host wears hearing aids in both ears. Gunsberg’s hearing loss was a result of spending his late teens working as a roadie but he only noticed the problem a decade later when he kept needing to turn up the volume on his car stereo. He also has an ongoing battle with tinnitus on top of hearing loss in both ears. Despite all this, he still continues to thrive in the industry and as an advocate for various health initiatives.
The following few are Australians who are completely deaf but have a number of significant achievements under their belts.
A Koorie woman from the Awabakal tribe, Kim Curtis grew up in NSW and was 3 years old when her parents discovered her disability. However, she never let it stop her as she went on to be one of the first deaf Aboriginal Australians to graduate with a degree; a remarkable achievement as there was no policy for equal access to education for people with disabilities during that time. She has a strong commitment to the deaf community and has helped develop and improve services in TAFE institutions. In addition, Curtis also works with community groups and has helped improve the services available for the hearing impaired such as captioning at cinemas, public TTW phone access, installing smoke alarms in deaf people’s homes and forming an interpreter service at Tamworth base hospital. She regularly provides support for rural regional and metropolitan Aboriginal people with disabilities.
Cindy Lu Fitzpatrick
Next on the list is Cindy-Lu Fitzpatrick, one of Australia’s most remarkable swimmers with the honour of representing her country at 2 Commonwealth games, 2 Pan-pacific games and competed at 6 Deaflympics over 20 years. She has accumulated 19 gold, 4 silver and 5 bronze medals in the span of her 20 year career as a swimmer. In 2002, she was the only woman to be inducted into the NSW hall of champions. At the 2005 Deaflympic games, she was bestowed the honour of lighting the cauldron. Now retired, the former swimmer works at the University of Newcastle as an Auslan teacher.
An Australian representative basketball player and vice captain of the Australian Men’s Deaf Basketball team ‘The Goannas,’ Sam Cartledge has never let being deaf hinder his achievements. Cartledge has represented Australia a total of 5 times as an athlete so far, notably at the 2012 Asia Pacific Deaf Games in South Korea and at 2 Deaflympics. In 2016, he was granted the title of Deaf Sports Male Athlete of the Year and the MVP of the National Deaf Basketball Club Championship. In addition to that he juggles three jobs with Australian Hearing, Deaf Sports Australia and Hear For You.
The youngest on our list, this 15 year old world-class swimmer was diagnosed with genetic hearing loss as a baby. He has been swimming for Australia since he was 12 years old and represented Australia at the Deaflympics in 2017. In 2018, he was named the Australian Male Deaf Athlete of the Year. Kirschner is now a youth ambassador for Deaf Children Australian, inspiring young people to achieve their goals.
Pivoting over to the other side of the world, here are a few famous celebrities that you wouldn’t have guessed rely on hearing aids.
The successful Catwoman and X-men actress lost 80% of her hearing in her right ear due to domestic abuse. As a result of this experience, Berry began working at the Jenesse Center, a domestic violence intervention and prevention program and has done so for more than 15 years.
The Who frontman was fitted with hearing aids in both ears after prolonged exposure to amplified music caused significant hearing damage. Townshend also contends with tinnitus but never let that stop him from being an active performer and songwriter.
The former US president suffered from hearing loss due to exposure to loud rock music and noise from hunting rifles. Like many, Clinton ignored his hearing loss for years until finally at age 51, he got fitted with 2 in-ear hearing aids. Now he’s a major advocate of hearing aid technology and actively promotes hearing health in the developing world.
If you notice the signs of hearing loss, don’t hesitate to make an appointment to see an audiologist. At The Art of Hearing, our team of experienced and university-trained audiologists in Perth are dedicated to full service hearing solutions. From the initial hearing aid fitting to follow appointments, we are committed to helping our patients achieve the best quality of life with their hearing devices. For more information, book an appointment on our website: https://www.artofhearing.com.au or call us at (08) 9390 8811 today!