The first video below shows 29-year-old Sloan Churman hearing her own voice for the first time when her cochlear implant is turned on. If your first reaction to her happiness is to be bored or jaded or flame the comments section here about the ethics of voluntary cochlear implants, then you’re an a-hole and I hope a cochlear implant steals your TV. I don’t know how a little medical device could steal your TV, but I’ll figure it out.
The next two videos below are of Nikki Buck at her first cochlear implant switch-on at age 27. She had started losing her hearing at age 18. She did a Q&A at Reddit where she said, “I wasn’t born deaf so I heard sounds before but it was AWESOME hearing them again. I once accidentally dropped a light-bulb and it made such a lovely tinkling noise when I swept all the pieces up.” She also said she was astounded to find out her mobile phone has always made clicking sound effects when she pressed the keys.
Stop reading right now if you don’t want any bittersweet news. The woman in the second video says the reason she was crying at first is because everything sounded different than she remembered it, which was upsetting, although she reports the sound improved with time. Her description of her father’s voice as sounding “robotic” is an astute observation; this example of what cochlear implants sound like does seem robotic compared to regular sound (Note: this is an approximation of an 8-channel implant; Nikki’s is a better 22-channel one). Hearing people sounding like robots is still pretty awesome, though. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go smash so many light bulbs and explain to my local grocer, “No, no, no, don’t call the police. This sounds wonderful.”