My parents found out I was deaf when I was nine months old and I received my cochlear implant at 13 months. This gave me the ability to hear sounds however implantation is just the first step of many and I had to learn how to interpret the sounds. I then went through various speech and language therapy sessions mostly in the back room of our flat at the time. However the standard adult therapy I received at the start wasn’t delivering the best results and my mother was determined to help me. I started doing Auditory Verbal therapy which, to me, consisted of ‘games’ to help me communicate better.

When I was four my parents took me to the John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles where we spent two weeks with other families in similar situations. After two weeks I was able to say my name which was a huge milestone. Another big step was joining AVUK’s family programme where I had support from Jaqueline Stokes - the first Auditory Verbal Therapist in the UK. She became a family friend over the years and helped hugely with my therapy. With her support, I learnt how to interpret sounds and speak.

I was born and brought up in Hong Kong where my Dad was working and choosing my school at age five was a huge thing for parents who looked into class sizes and other issues that would impact my learning. They also made changes to accommodate me including changing the floor surface in my classroom to improve the sound quality. I then moved back to the UK to attend school, where I was greatly supported by a teacher of the deaf. I completed my GCSE’s in the UK and then moved back to Hong Kong to complete my A levels.

Before going to university I took a year to get work experience and travel, including working in a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong, travelling around India with my Dad and an internship at AVUK where it was great to meet some of the families going through Auditory Verbal therapy. Helping the team where I could with my own insight was something I wanted to do to give back to the charity that had supported me and my family so much. 

I graduated from Aberystwyth University in 2019 after studying Film and Television Studies. For my final project I created a documentary speaking to a number of other deaf people whilst reflecting on my own hearing journey.

Finding a job in film and television was difficult and I spent time working in a cake factory and selling energy contracts. Then I completed an internship with the university doing digital marketing and worked for a small independent clothing shop in Shrewsbury that wanted to launch a website during lockdown.

I moved to Cardiff and got a job at The Royal Mint based near Cardiff in Llantrisant, managing content on the website, and working within the digital team to improve customer experience online. Playing a small role in launching coins for the platinum jubilee, and Coronation has been incredibly interesting.

Meeting Rose Aisling-Ellis for the BBC documentary, as well as discussing the documentary I made at university, was nerve-racking, but I really enjoyed learning about her experience growing up deaf and using sign language. The differences in experience and speech therapy we received really opened my eyes. Rose made me feel more accepted as a deaf person, despite my stronger hearing identity. It was also amazing to reflect on my four years since finishing university, and almost eight years since my initial project researching hearing loss, and the decisions my family had made when I was younger. 

 I know it is thanks to the determination of my parents to get early and effective support for me with Auditory Verbal therapy that I don’t feel being deaf has held me back in any way.

I love music, can play guitar, and saxophone and was part of a band in Hong Kong as a teenager. Sport has always been huge for me including hockey, cross country running and at university I joined the surf club – this is now a great passion. 

I’m so pleased my parents fought to get the right support for me, and us as a family, and I know just what a difference Auditory Verbal therapy has made for me, allowing me to do everything my hearing friends can. I’m really excited for the future, especially continuing to explore my own deaf identity and Deaf culture and also helping to raise awareness that with early and effective support all deaf children can reach their potential.


Harrison Steeple (26)