Katie Douglass was just a few months old when her family first brought her to Hear and Say, looking for answers to support their daughter’s recent diagnosis of hearing loss.

After wearing hearing aids for several years, Katie would go on to receive her first cochlear implant at four years old, which she credits to changing her life’s trajectory.

Katie Smiling

“Despite being born deaf, I live in a world full of sound where I can hear my family and friends talk and laugh, listen to music and podcasts, and enjoy other everyday sounds that people with hearing take for granted,” said Katie, now 24.

“It was through a combination of listening and spoken language therapy and audiology sessions at Hear and Say and the unwavering support from my family, that I went from knowing only 50 words prior to my implant surgery to being ready for school the next year, at the same time as my friends.”

Having recently relocated from Sydney back to her hometown of Brisbane, Katie said she was excited to get settled into a new job in digital marketing, and was looking forward to coming back to the familiar stomping grounds of Hear and Say for annual audiology checks – albeit in a much larger centre than the fledgling Hear and Say of the mid-1990s.

“It’s now exactly 20 years on from when I received my first cochlear implant, and the Hear and Say team has supported me all the way from when I began attending the centre, to my schooling, university and even in my first full-time job while living in Sydney,” said Katie, who has since gone onto have a second cochlear implant.

“Sound gives me the freedom to follow my dreams and not be limited by my hearing loss (except I can’t sing but that one’s on me). This is all thanks to Hear and Say and their incredible team who gave me the gift of learning to hear and speak.”

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