Personal, Post-Activation

What It’s Like To Take A Class With A Cochlear Implant


Image Credits: Keep Calm Studio 

I had a pretty exciting day at work today. Half of the day was my standard work day spent on the phone with clients, emailing clients back and forth, managing projects, and taking care of my other daily tasks. However, for the second half of the day, from 1-5 I got to participate in a Photoshop Training course held by Rutgers University. This was the first real class I ever attended with my cochlear implant.

The excitement started before class even began. Rutgers held two classes for my company. The morning session was for beginners and the later session was an intermediate level. I, as well as the rest of the social media department and a handful of others, attended the intermediate class since we already know the basics of Photoshop and use it on a daily basis. The training session was held at Camden’s Technology Park — or as we like to call it “Our old stomping grounds”. This is the place our company was located temporarily before we moved to our new headquarters on Aquarium Drive. It is just a quarter of a mile away from us all. Prior to heading over to the Technology Park, many of us took lunch together in the cafeteria.

We all started talking together and one of my co-workers put the TV on. I was actually able to engage in the conversation even with the TV on. This is not something I’d be able to do at all prior to getting my cochlear. We started discussing how we’d get to there, too. It was within walking distance, but many people wanted to take their car since we’d be done at 5pm (the end of the work day) and they didn’t want to have to come back to our office — they wanted to be able to just leave. You may remember how I said I don’t drive in the past. Or have a car for that matter. So driving was out for me. I talked to my co-workers and we made arrangements to carpool together. This was an easy hassle-free conversation that took 5 minutes if that. It may not sound like a big deal for many people reading this, but it was a small victory for me. Trying to figure out something as minor as this would’ve been a much  more difficult and anxiety-ridden procedure before I got my cochlear. It would be a “huh? what? I can’t hear you. I’m sorry? What did you say?” kind of conversation that would probably take 20 minutes to get through and still result in me not knowing who’s car I was going in or what anyone said. So yeah, this was a bit of a proud moment for me.

Then after lunch we all met up and rode together. Two of my co-workers sat in the front and I sat in the back. We were able to hold a conversation with the car radio on. Another small victory for me. Prior to getting my cochlear implant I wouldn’t have been able to hear a word anyone said from the front if I was sitting in the back because I wouldn’t have been able to read their lips. I also identified the song on the radio. I don’t know what it’s called, but I knew I heard it before and liked it. Before getting my cochlear, I couldn’t understand songs on the radio. It all sounded like distorted noise to me. I could not only hear and identify it, but I could still carry on a conversation while the radio was playing.

Photoshop training was of course the most exciting part of it all. It was really set up a bit like a college class. It has been three years since I’ve been in college, and I was never able to hear well in college. I did a lot of extra reading to make up for the fact that I couldn’t hear my professor. But I was able to hear every single word the professor said. Another thing that was extremely helpful was being able to hear the instructor without having to look at him. When you are taking a class on something like Photoshop, obviously you need to look at your computer screen most of the time and perform tasks while listening to the instructor, but without staring at him the whole time. This would have been a huge challenge for me in the past and I probably would’ve gotten lost multiple times due to failing at balancing between the two (it would’ve been the question of whether I want to try to do Photoshop and not hear the instructor or hear the instructor and not do Photoshop…either way a no-win situation).

I was not only able to hear the instructor, but my coworkers, too. If I got lost I could just whisper to my coworker next to me for some extra help and he’d help put me back on track.

I was also able to ask the instructor questions and get one-on-one help with a Facebook ad I was struggling with. He gave me some good feedback that will help me greatly with my client’s future campaigns. I never would’ve been able to really ask for help and actually receive it (because I wouldn’t have been able to hear his advice) in the past.

This class was certainly an exciting experience for me. I learned a lot, and I’m very much eager to go back and take more classes now. Here’s to hoping grad school works out for me so I can take many more classes and hear many more lectures and gain a whole new college experience like I never had before!

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