New speech processors help young deaf children to hear with greater clarity

New speech processors help young deaf children to hear with greater clarity
Marc and Jenna Borer

CORNWALL, Ontario – A pair of Cornwall-area children can hear with greater clarity thanks to advancements made in the field of Cochlear implants – and gifts from a local charity and the community at-large.

Marc and Jenna Borer, of Lunenberg, were both born deaf. The youngsters were fitted with cochlear implants at a young age – a technological marvel that allows many deaf people of all ages to regain the ability to hear.

But the implant isn’t infallible. The sounds people hear do not come with the same clarity produced by a normal ear. And background noise can result in speech and music getting drowned out in a cacophony of white noise.

Marc and Jenna, aged 10 and 9, would often strain to hear their parents speaking, especially while riding in the family car.

“As a parent, you always want the best for your kids, and when that means spending thousands of dollars you don’t have, it’s absolutely heartbreaking,” said their mom Julie. “The technology of the external devices have made many improvements recently. In fact, the speech processors are now Bluetooth enabled.”

But the new technology is far from cheap.

“The cost of four new speech processors is in excess of $11,000 after the government subsidies,” said Borer.

But Rachel’s Kids, a local charity that helps Cornwall and area children who face barriers to thriving, stepped in to help.

“In tears, I explained to Rachel’s Kids how the new technology would adapt to the kids environment, reducing background noise to ensure superior hearing,” said Borer.

Rachel’s Kids stepped in with a $3,000 donation. That was on top of a slew of donations from other community organizations and individuals.

Recently the children were outfitted with their upgraded cochlear devices.

“It was better than Christmas morning to see their reaction when they heard the difference in sound quality.  They can’t believe how loud the background noise was before,” said Borer. “With this new technology, the wind noise is reduced as well, which makes it easier to hear their friends at recess.  Music sounds better to them now too. 

“And with a mini microphone we wear in the car, our voice is wirelessly transmitted to their implants.  They don’t say ‘what’ anymore when we are driving.”

A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants do the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.

Julie said it’s tough to find the words to thank the people who helped, including Rachel’s Kids.

“It was…I don’t even know the right words to say,” she said. “To see everyone come together to help my kids. It was wonderful.”

Kim Lauzon, executive director of Rachel’s Kids, said her agency is only to happy to help.

“Rachel’s Kids helps to take the stress and pain away by granting wishes, providing financial support and lending a helping hand when needed so children can go back to being children again,” she said.

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