We want to celebrate the stories of four amazing people.

We want to share with our community personal stories of people who are Deaf of Hard of Hearing. To raise more awareness about the lived experience of hearing loss, with insight from people across different backgrounds.

Meet Yusuf Erbas

I was born with bilateral profound hearing loss and was implanted with a cochlear implants at two years. Growing up, I always preferred the oral world due to fears of looking funny using Auslan.

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But now, as a full-grown adult, I love to use Auslan. It makes me feel at home and allows me to not miss out on information I would miss verbally. The most difficult challenge I face daily is accepting my deafness. Because I use cochlear implants I am torn between the deaf and hearing worlds.

The hearing world is where most of my social and career lifestyle is based. But I enjoy the deaf community more as that is where the people around me cater to my needs and truly understand what I go through. The deaf community is where I feel like I truly belong.

Another challenge is the frustration of missing social cues and jokes, which constantly reminds me of my impairment. This would make me think negatively and thus negatively impact my emotions. The good news is that I am trying to change that by replacing unhelpful thinking styles with more positive mindsets, such as counting the positives and not blaming myself.


I wish I had known growing up that being deaf and hard of hearing is okay! Embrace it and turn it into a positive. For example, I use my hearing loss as a strong point for my Audiology career, where I can empathise and connect with clients with hearing loss. I strongly advocate for Auslan classes in Primary and Secondary schools. Hearing people should be prepared in case they meet a deaf person in their life. Who knows, maybe a deaf individual will be your best friend or spouse!

Meet Ana Maria Belo

I first discovered I had issues with my hearing when I was 7 years old. I was given one analog hearing aid when I was 17 years old. I hated it so much. I wasn’t able to use it for anything so it lived in my drawer. I relied on lip reading and my other senses to get by. I had 3 major surgeries to try to rectify and reconstruct my inner ear. But my hearing never got better. After an incident in 2012 I lost even more hearing in both ears and bought my first set of digital hearing aids. At the same time, I decided to start learning Auslan. I have no idea how stable my hearing will be so I love that I can communicate in Auslan. I just wish that everyone else was able to communicate back to me. My wish is that Auslan is taught in schools Australia wide.

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So that there is a greater understanding of deafness and the accessibility gap becomes so much smaller.

My work requires me to sing and use my voice. I’ve been able to learn how to produce sound regardless of how my hearing is fluctuating. It can be really tiring some days but I’m grateful for my hearing aids. They aren’t a perfect solution as most people think. I still need to read lips when dealing with hearing people.

It can be tough finding an identity in the community. I can speak and sign. It can be difficult to comprehend that it’s ok to have both.

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I wasn’t born into a Deaf family and I am late deaf, so I’ve had to find my own way. I’m grateful for my Deaf elders who have supported me in my journey.

The one thing I wish more people knew about hearing loss is that each journey is different. Every person deals with it differently. We are so lucky to be living in this time right now where we have access to so much information and you can make the best choice that suits your needs.

Meet Irena Farinacci

My mother had German Measles before I was born. However they did not realise I am deaf until I was 18 months old.

I have worn hearing aids all my life, and I have also considered having a cochlear implant however need more time on this.

I have a combination of communication modes and can speak well and use Auslan fluently. I have no preference as it depends on who am communicating with.

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It’s always been challenging trying to understand what goes on with group conversations. It’s stressful and I often feel left out.

I find it easier to communicate in smaller groups as we can manage the conversations better.

I was fully accepted into the deaf community once I able to communicate well in Auslan.

Every deaf and hard of hearing person have varying levels of hearing loss and it’s not all the same. This means we all need to adjust our dials to ensure they feel included. The best thing you can do is ask the person what they need first.

I wish my parents had access to a range of expert advice rather than rely on the medical profession that pushed them towards “curing” my deafness.

Meet Di Cummins

I was out to dinner with a group of colleagues, I became quite self-conscious as I couldn’t hear the friends sitting at the end of the table and I asked people to repeat themselves several times. That was about 7 or so years ago.

I use hearing aids, I have recently upgraded to Oticon, they provide a considerable improvement, I use my mobile to adjust them and am enjoying music streamed from my phone. I am also oral too. I believe I face challenges socially most days even though my new aids are a big improvement.


I find it difficult to hear if the person speaking to me is not in front of me, I still ask some people to repeat for me what they have said, especially names when being introduced and also in restaurants.

I realise I need to focus more when in conversation with people and look directly at them, this is an area for me to improve and I think my communication experiences will also improve. I have accepted my hearing loss, so I don’t feel I could have prepared earlier for it.
I find sometimes people can be impatient with my hearing loss, I appreciate it can be frustrating sometimes for those close to me. Maybe sometimes people could be more understanding however this is not a big issue for me.


And I would like to add that having accepted my hearing loss, I am committed to wearing my hearing aids all the time. The only time I don’t wear them when leaving home is my regular swim at the local pool. It’s not a burden to wear them it’s part of my routine.

I think high cost of hearing aids is unfortunate it means they are out of reach for many that would benefit from them.