Joanne Milne suffers the rare condition Usher Syndrome. It left her deaf since birth and in her mid-20s it claimed her sight. Last month the 40-year-old underwent a life-changing operation to have cochlear implants fitted. She waited anxiously for four weeks before they could be switched on...
Ms Milne said the switch-on has been the 'most emotional and overwhelming experience' of her life.
She said: 'I’m still in shock now. I have to learn to recognise what these sounds are as I build a sound library in my brain. Hearing things for the first time is so emotional from the ping of a light switch to running water. I can’t stop crying and I can already foresee how it’s going to be life changing. I’m so happy. Over the last 48 hours hearing someone laughing behind me, the birds twittering and just being with friends... they didn’t have to tap my arm to get my attention which a massive leap.'
Usher Syndrome is a genetic or inherited condition, which affects a person's hearing, vision and balance.
A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can help provide a sense of sound to a person who is deaf or severely hard of hearing.
An external portion of the implants sits behind the ear, while a second part is surgically placed under the skin.
Signals generated by the implant are sent via the auditory nerve to the brain, which recognises the signals as sound.
The implants cannot restore normal hearing but they can give a deaf person a good representation of sounds, helping them understand speech.
The volume has to be increased slowly to allow the brain to adjust to the new information coming from the ears.
In the UK The Ear Foundation estimates about 10,000 people have cochlear implants and the number is growing every year.