HEARoes All Around Us

April 14, 2016

We can’t always see at first glance what challenges people are going through

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Sometimes people who find a way to address their deafness or hearing impairment blend into the crowd and we never get to see their courage in action or read their remarkable stories.


Let’s shine a light on living with hearing loss!

There are some well-known public figures whose challenge of living with hearing loss you may not have known about. Whether they have brought attention to hearing impairment and loss by educating and talking to viewers, interviewers or even addressing the United Nations we at Southern ENT think they are HEARoes worth reading about!


Hollywood HEARoes

Actor Lou Ferrigno

is best known for his TV role as The Incredible Hulk.  At the age of 3, a severe ear infection resulted in the loss of 75% his hearing capabilities. He has spoken up about being teased as a kid and called names like “Deaf Louie”. The bullying motivated him into body building as a teen, a sport in which he has won multiple major awards. This physique paved the way to being cast as the Super Hero Hulk. Even though he was a sensation, major TV networks refused to interview him on air due to the way he spoke.  In 2005 this HEARo told an interviewer “I think my hearing loss helped create a determination within me to be all I can be, and gave me a certain strength of character, too.”


Whoopi Goldberg

an Academy Award winning actress has been diagnosed with High Frequency Hearing Loss. Whoopi has said “I attribute my own hearing loss – which, by the way, is suffered by thousands of people in varying degrees – to years and years of listening to music so loudly and so close to the delicate ear drum.” In 2015 she advocated for the Starkey Hearing Foundation and on television she is raising attention by advising teens and viewers to regulate speaker volume to address preventable hearing loss.


Actress Holly Hunter

was nominated for an Oscar for her compelling performance as a Deaf woman in the movie “The Piano”. As a child of nine she contracted the Mumps which resulted in her becoming deaf in one ear. She speaks publicly about her hearing loss and has even attributed some of her success as an Actress as being a result of her hearing impairment. Acknowledging her SuperHEARo capabilities in 2002 she said, “I have a natural intensity that is just a part of who I am. And I think my intensity comes from somewhere else. I think that my intensity comes from being profoundly deaf.”, “I think that has made me an acute listener and acutely tuned into what people are saying.”


Actress Halle Berry

is a HEARo too, advocating for Women’s Empowerment nearly 20 years after an abusive boyfriend beat her to the point of hearing loss. The incident of domestic violence caused 80% of the hearing in her left ear to be lost. After this, she found the courage to take action and get out of violent relationships for good. She is now very vocal in sharing about her hearing disability and how it occurred. She speaks publically on Domestic Violence, encouraging women to break the cycle of violence. Saying, “I want women to stand up and break the silence and get rid of the shame and the fear and find a way to stand up for themselves.”


Malala Yousafzai

only crime was speaking out in favour of education for Girls in Pakistan. She was just 15 when Muslim Extremists boarded her school bus and shot her in the head. The bullet miraculously didn’t pierce her skull. Instead travelling the length of her head it shattered her left eardrum stealing away her ability to hear on that side. While in England for medical care she received a cochlear implant which has restored hearing to her left ear. Malala is now a world renowned advocate for Education. In her address to the United Nations she said “The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, “but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”


Right here in South Africa former actress Gaynor Young

is a local SuperHEARo. After an 18 meter fall on stage at the State Theatre in Pretoria, her life was changed forever. In an amazing show of human spirit she has battled back against impaired vision, brain and nerve damage and total deafness to become an inspiration to many! Of her journey she has written an acclaimed book and also starred in a play, both entitled “My Plunge To Fame”. In 2007 she received a cochlear implant of which she says “I cannot describe to you the joy of once more being able to ‘hear’. The delight of being able to walk down a street and listen to the birds singing is something I never thought I would experience again.” Then in 2013 she was enabled to hear in stereo by her second cochlear implant and said. “For the first time in 24 years I feel ‘complete’. She has created a new career out of sharing her story through inspirational public speaking.  Of her life experience she says “I have found that it is only when something has been taken away from one that one is aware of its true value.” Read more about her on www.earearblog.com


Inspire is what SuperHEARoes do best!

This year, we at Southern ENT want to bring SuperHEARoes into the spotlight!

We are searching for the  unknown HEARoes amongst us. Is your journey of becoming a HEARo yet to be told? Do you know someone facing hearing impairment with courage? Do you have a story that could inspire others? Share it with us! Tell us how your deafness or hearing impairment has helped make you great! We at Southern ENT wish everyone bravery on their journey to keep going, after all, you never know who you might inspire!


For any information or advice, please call our offices on 011 667 6243

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