I Can Hear It In Your Voice

“You don’t sound like you’re deaf.”  Since I’ve gotten my cochlear implants, I get this a lot.

A few weeks ago, Dave and I were talking with someone about hearing loss.  I was explaining how my CIs worked and that when I take them off, I’m totally deaf.  He looked amazed and said, “If you hadn’t told me, I would never have known you had any type of hearing loss at all.”

“Hang on” I said, as I slipped the magnets off my head and let them dangle down to my shoulders.  Then I continued speaking.  “I can’t hear myself talking now, but Dave and Paige tell me that my voice changes when my CIs are off.  They can tell when the battery dies or I’m not wearing my CIs at all.  Can you tell the difference now?”  He looked stunned.  He could obviously hear the difference.

One of these days I’ll have to tape-record myself talking with and then without the CIs, so I can hear the difference too.  It’s like my little parlor trick, to actually prove that I’m deaf.  Does anybody else ever do this?


About wendiwendy

I'm a real-life bionic woman.

Posted on November 8, 2009, in Cochlear Implants & Hearing Loss, Observations and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. That is interesting Wendi. I have never had anyone tell me that my speech changes that quickly – but I only talk to my husband when I don’t have my CIs on. I really don’t like to talk at all when my hearing is off.


  2. Yep, my voice is different when I’m deaf too. Mom can always tell if I don’t have my hearing aid on when I’m talking. I get louder so I can hear myself speak, and my tone is flat.


  3. I’m told the same thing! My mom gets annoyed with me if I leave my implants off too long (like on a lazy Sunday morning) because she has a hard time understand what I’m saying. I’m told my lips move, but there’s barely any sound coming out. When I have my implants on, you’d never know that I’m deaf! (From the sound of my voice, I mean..) I have a friend who is deaf and has a very Northern accent. When she went swimming with a friend without her CI on, she was told she sounded British! I thouht that was pretty funny 🙂


  4. My 11 year old daughter has bilateral implants. I can tell when even one implant has dead batteries, because she starts talking louder. When both are off, she talks much louder, and her speech gets slurred. It is really amazing how much difference there is.


  5. I’ve never recorded myself without my hearing aids in but I’m really conscious of how I am talking without them because I don’t know if I’m shouting or not. Never thought about the tone, or anything else, changing except for the volume. I’m gonna have to record myself now and check it out!

    At times I find it hard to gauge my own voice even with my aids in. It’s especially bad in wind as the wind-noise disguises my voice a lot.

    Nice blog by they way!


  6. I hate it when people say that, or the other comment, “you talk so WELL for a deaf person.” When I got my new hearing aids, my daughter noticed a change in my speech almost immediately. Before that my consonants were ‘slushy’ Oh well. . .


  7. When I was growing up, my parents and other people could tell the difference when I have dead batteries for my CI. It’s not louder, just a bit different in pronounciations. I always wonder. But now, since I am aware of the difference people have told me, I made sure to work on my voice while I don’t have CI on, so now my voice isn’t much different either on or off.

    Really interesting though, haha, British. That’s awesome.


  8. @Wendi:

    Once again, you nail it. This time, it’s the well-documented reflex action of adjusting your voice level to what you hear (or, in your explicit case, not hear) your voice level to be.

    For someone who has normal hearing, they will modulate (adjust) their voice level based on the sound “volume” perceived, almost always in the 150-1kHz band.

    People who have sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) can’t hear their own voice at the proper level, so they have a tendency to speak louder.

    On the other hand, peple with a pure conductive loss (many times women with otosclerosis) speak more softly in noise, because they hear their own voice at normal levels; but the ambient noise is attenuated (literally absorbed) in the middle ear.


  9. I know my hairdresser said she could always hear me before I got my hearing aids because I talked up. And my throat would feel strained at times but I didn’t realize that it was because I was talking so loud. When I got my hearing aids and went for a haircut, she admitted when she got done that I was talking so quietly that she had to step around to see my mouth to catch what I was saying. And my husband was irritated with me for a long time because he said I was talking so low he couldn’t hear me anymore…he needs hearing aids too but won’t get them! Now I have to turn my aids down to sit and watch tv with him!


  10. I totally agree. Heck, I remember bumping into someone who was a year behind me in high school (five years after graduation) and he had no idea I was deaf. I went through high school feeling like I walked around with this big poster on my chest saying “I’m deaf” and in on back woud say “I can’t hear you from behind”. Sometimes I can “pass as hearing” and sometimes to the trained ear, they detect an “accent”.


  11. Wow. I never knew that! I know I’m talking louder when I have my hearing aid off, but talking in a different accent? Amazing. And Shari, I agree with that. [Quote/]…and sometimes to the trained ear, they detect an “accent”. I’m Singaporean; born and bred in Singapore, but people have asked me where I’m from. One asked if I was from Indonesia, and then later wondered if I had Nyonya heritage. My senior in school told me that my pronounciation was different…
    Great blog!


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