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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social initiative

As most of you may know by now, I am hearing-challenged due to viral infection in my left ear, so I wear a hearing aid in it since 10 years ago; as well as an inborn dead right ear, of which I just had undergone a cochlear implant surgery on it in December 2011.

I am extremely thankful and grateful for the fact that I grew up through normal schooling in Singapore, as such I am able to communicate clearly with anyone whom I meet. Adversity has had toughened my character and helped me gain wisdom. Despite what I have gone through for the past 10 years or so, I choose to remain positive. I believe in positivity because I believe if I can, anything is possible.

For the past couple months, I’ve been thinking about this:

Are there hearing-impaired Singaporeans who feel that they are abandoned by the society? How can I help to ignite the fire in them to excel in life, making them look beyond their physical constraints? Are there avenues to help such Singaporeans to buy hearing aids? Are they aware about how they can go for cochlear implant devices if they really need such hearing devices? Do members of public understand their difficulties? How I can help to communicate the importance of hearing care to able-hearing Singaporeans? How can I help them to move up the social mobility ladder?

I’ve been doing some reading on these related topics.

For sure, I feel that the hearing-impaired are a part of our society. They are one of us. As a young Singaporean, I feel that we should be a caring and inclusive society, celebrating differences (or diversity) among us. Out of compassion, we should all the more help one another to pursue dreams, whatever it could be.

After the passing of CEO and founder of Apple Inc – Steve Jobs, and the cochlear implant surgery late last year, I feel a higher calling to be an advocate for the hearing-impaired communities in Singapore, no matter young or old, to cater to the needs and aspirations of this community segment by possibly starting a small-scale non-profit organisation or movement this year.

Life is short. Indeed, there is no such thing as a “perfect timing” before we can start something to help others in our society. So why not start now?

I already had something brewing in my mind.

Are you keen to join me? Do you want to help hearing-impaired young Singaporeans?
I am open to any wacky ideas or collaborations. =)