Alan Soh

I am my own columnist, sharing my own thoughts and recent experiences!



Without my hearing aid/cochlear implant devices, I can still hear sounds, such as heavy vehicles driving past me, alarm clocks ringing, aeroplanes flying over my head, kitchen utensils dropping onto the floor etc. As long as the sounds I hear are heavy and loud, not light and soft.

Thankfully I am not intellectually disabled. I am able-bodied, can execute many tasks, understand/do decent conversations with people without my hearing devices, as long as I am able to do lip-reading, hand gesturing, paper-writing and catch sounds if possible.

My preferred modes of communication are email, SMS or Whatsapp or face-to-face conversation. My limitation is about phone-calls only. I may not hear well over the phone.

Sometimes I think I am weird. Why?

This is because I always go around telling people that I am hearing-impaired, in which I observe that the some of the hard-of-hearing Singaporeans actually prefer to call themselves “deaf” because the term “hearing-impaired” is perceived as a NEGATIVE word which could possibly make them look “deaf, mute and dumb” among others.

Rather, they are proud and happy to say they are deaf.

A easy straight-forward 4-letter word.

They don’t call themselves hearing-impaired.

However in my personal viewpoint, I thought: if I call myself deaf, it seems like I am condemning myself. No no no. So as such, I conclude that a “better nicer word to use” is HEARING-IMPAIRED.

It boils down to self-perception. Honestly speaking, I just can’t imagine going around telling people “I-am-deaf.” Maybe I personally thought “DEAF” is a very negative word to describe myself. It sounds alot like self-bashing. This is exactly how I feel about it.

I prefer to use more positive words to describe myself. Talking about constructing a positive public self-image.

It has been so far so good that the people whom I have had met in life treated me with due respect. You respect people, in turn they will respect you too.

Thinking further.. Ok ok. maybe I should probably use this term instead – “hearing-challenged“? It sounds better, am I right?

Am I weird? I hope not.


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Cochlear Implant Surgery (Pt 5)

On the evening of Saturday 31st March 2012, I went attended a volunteers’ night event with 2 fellow youth group members, Raymond and Iskandar, at Senja-Cashew Community Club.

Honesty speaking, I would like to thank them because I did a surprising breakthrough – wore both my hearing devices — hearing aid and cochlear implant device publicly on our MRT train journey from Choa Chu Kang back to Yishun. Yes, honesty speaking I am also surprised. lol.

To you able-hearing readers, well, it may be nothing but to me, being someone who is self-conscious, it was a “daring” act. I focused on the two gentlemen and on the spot, broke through my pyschological barrier — just threw away self-suspecting thoughts of “after putting on my hearing devices, will people stare at me as if I am an alien?”.

Yup, life is too short for me to bother think about how others may perceive me.
Look, some people are unable to see clearly, so they wear spectacles. The same theory applies to hearing devices for hearing-impaired individuals as well. Humans are not perfect beings afterall. So since I need to wear the hearing devices in order to communicate effectively with the people around me, why must I be looked upon differently?

With my four limbs, I can move around on my own, and communicate fluently with others. Just like anyone of you. Yay! =)

I believe the issue boils down to ignorance, and negative perceptions about hearing-impaired people in Asian perspective, particularly among illiterate elderly folks. Such mindsets are to be changed.

By the way, I foresee that the coming generation of hard-of-hearing Singaporeans are possibly those 20-40 year-olds who have grown up with Walkmans, iPods, iPhones, iPads, MP3 players and insanely loud dubstep in nightspots these days. They will be increasingly hearing-impaired at earlier ages.

Is it time for me to start advocating the importance of hearing care now, than leaving it to commercial hearing aid service providers? Hmmmmm. That is food for thought for me. Hmmm..

I just went for one of those follow-up appointments, seeing my audiologist again at the ENT Clinic 1B @ Tan Tock Seng Hospital yesterday. So far so good. =)