True North is making a ground-breaking observational live documentary for Channel 4 (a signed live version will air simultaneously on 4Seven) which brings together a group of profoundly deaf people and over the course of an hour of live television and shares the moment they may hear for the very first time since having a cochlear implant fitted.
The implant, an electronic device which stimulates the inner ear, can replace hearing that has been lost and gives access to sounds users were previously unaware of. The programme will provide privileged access to this potentially huge life-altering moment – as it happens.
Several weeks before the live programme airs each person will undergo surgery to have their cochlear implant fitted. Then on the night of transmission, the instant each person’s implant is switched on will be broadcast live from The Richard Ramsden Centre for Hearing Implants at Manchester Royal Infirmary.
It is at that moment that they, their loved ones and viewers will discover just if and what they can hear. The reaction to a cochlear implant ‘switch on’ is very hard to predict. Some patients report hearing speech clearly, others may only hear whistles and beeps, which in time will develop into more meaningful hearing. How much hearing an implant provides is unique to each individual and often they require follow-up care to fine tune them. They require several follow-up appointments to fine tune the device to gain the best possible outcome.
The patients are under the care of Implant Centres in Manchester, Birmingham and Cambridge. Each will be accompanied by their own audiologist who will conduct the ‘switch on’ as well as family and friends. Aged from 32 to 78, men and women, each of the patients have their own personal reasons for choosing this course of action. Some have been profoundly deaf since birth whilst others have lost their hearing as recently as within the last six months.
Whilst many people live happy and fulfilled lives with little or no hearing – this group of people have made the very personal choice to have the implants to create or restore hearing in the hope they will positively impact on their lives.
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