Sigrid Cerf lost her hearing at the age of three after suffering from spinal meningitis. Instead of growing up with sign language, Cerf learned to lipread and speak English. She received her implant just two years ago, at the age of 53.
Q. What was it like to hear again?
A. It was unbelievably pleasant. It's been nothing but a party since, in fact.
Q. What kind of training and rehabilitation did you have to go through?
A. I didn't have to go through anything in particular. I was left pretty much on my own except for computer programming that was done on my speech processor - or my external device that I wear - but I did a lot of listening all day long, primarily to learn how to pronounce words and add to my vocabulary.
I listened to a Walkman and recorded books for hours and hours on end and as a result I was able to function more efficiently as a hearing person.
Q. Was it a difficult adjustment?
A. Not in any way. It was nothing but fun. After being deaf for fifty years, it was the easiest adjustment I've ever had to make.
Q. What kinds of things can you do now that you couldn't do before you had the implant?
A. Well, the thing I'm doing now, which is talking on the phone, was totally impossible two years ago. I can now carry on a conversation on the phone, I can use the television without having to lipread anyone on the screen or even using closed captioning I can carry on conversations with a much greater degree of comfort and be comfortable in practically any kind of listening environment, even occasionally at a noisy party.
Q. What was it like for your family?
A. We've all had fun with this implant, actually. It's not just I, but it's been my entire family. It's been expecially beneficial for my husband and two sons because they can now call me easily on the phone and they can now have normal conversations without having to be sure I'm looking at them when they talk.
My two sons live across the country and we talk on the phone regularly just like any kind of other normal phone conversation and we're just all around more relaxed about our communication.