Technology allows deaf woman to hear own voice

29-year-old Sarah Churman is deaf. Hearing aids aren't all that helpful. Yet a new Esteem implant allows her to hear her own voice for the first time. It is so moving that her husband posts the video to YouTube.

"The laughter felt loud," said Sarah Churman.

It's impossible for anyone who isn't deaf to even imagine how it might feel to hear laughter for the first time. Or, indeed, your own voice.

Yet Churman's husband decided to film the moment. He then posted it to YouTube.

In the notes to the video, Churman explained that hearing aids only help so much. Eight weeks ago, however, she was given an Esteem implant, made by Envoy Medical.

The device itself is placed behind the ear and no part of it is visible. It doesn't have a speaker or a microphone. It uses the outer part of the ear to funnel sound coming toward it and send it down the ear canal.

This implant takes vibrations and turns them into electrical signals. These are then sent to its sound processor. Then, through a small mechanical stimulus, the electrical signals are sent to your brain, so that the brain can work out what is being said.

If you look at Churman's reaction, you can see that the effect is instant, moving, and stunning. Being finally given the gift of something so many take for granted is overwhelming for her and, surely too, for anyone watching.

Technology is so often used these days to foster superficial behavior and pithy little needs.

Yet when it can change someone's life so profoundly, it's worth it to sit and stare awhile and consider what is truly important in life: love; health; and loud, loud laughter.

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