Deaf People with Cochlear Implants Share Sounds They Heard for the First Time and It Will Melt Your Heart


Oct. 26 2018, Updated 2:48 p.m. ET

deaf sounds
Source: istock/distractify

Remember the blind man who was able to see his wife for the first time, thanks to special glasses? This is kind of like that, but a little bit different. 

For most of us who live with the privilege of having our senses intact, there is so much going on in the world around us that we constantly take for granted. Like, have you ever thought that the sound of changing channels on a remote control can be really distressing and shrill to people who've never heard it before? I hardly even notice my remote makes a noise, that's how used to the tiny clicks I've become.

And I definitely never considered that people who are deaf or hard of hearing might not see any problem with letting a loud one rip in public — or might not even know what snoring is — until someone asked this fascinating question: "Deaf people of reddit: What are some things you thought were silent, but later found out weren’t?"

From people who've received cochlear implants to families of the hearing-impaired, the internet is flocking to share interesting tidbits about the cacophonies of everyday sounds we take for granted.

Read on for 20 stories that will change the way you think about sound.

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1. Doorbells

Source: istock
My best friend is deaf. He also has two older brothers who are deaf. When they were growing up, the two older brothers thought their mom was magic because whenever she went to the front door, someone was always outside! It's like she could summon someone there whenever she wanted! The two brothers would try everything, day after day, to try and see if they could make someone appear at the front door. Their mom asked them why they were messing with the front door so much and they said that they are trying to figure out how she makes people appear at the front door! They begged her to show them the trick of how she did it! She opened the front door, took them outside, turned them around and said, "See this button? That's called a doorbell. When someone comes to the door, they push it and it makes a sound inside. Then I go to the door and let them in."
It was the biggest mind-blowing moment for them and it's a classic story in their family.

- dbfolsom

2. Water

Source: istock
First time I got my hearing aids, walked out of the office I got them at, immediately heard rushing water, ran over to the edge of the parking lot to discover a massive waterfall that I didn’t know about before.

- shashlik_king

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3. Cats

Source: iStock
My newest kitty. I only have about 20 percent hearing and I found out from my roommate that he's a rather vocal little thing, and grunts and groans and makes noises all the time.

- LilRedheadStepSheep


My friend is hard of hearing and got hearing aids recently. She told me that she never knew that cats could purr, which I think is so precious because she loves and owns a cat. Just thought they vibrated for some reason.

- princess_myshkin

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4. Music in Stereo

Source: istock
Deaf in my left ear since birth and I remember when I started listening to music on my walkman that I didn't like the way it sounded. I was so upset that some of my songs sounded like they're missing parts. Didn't realize til I was 14, it was because it was in stereo.

- jayiscanadian1

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5. Changing Channels

Source: iStock
My buddy got a cochlear implant. He stopped by and noticed a few things. His hands rubbing on his jeans. Took us a while to figure out what he was hearing and asking us about.
He also said there was a loud beep that was driving him crazy. It was a little bloop that happened on the TV when flipping through a list. He was like, "And you guys enjoy that?"

- thehuston

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6. Vacuum Cleaners

Source: iStock
Lived with a deaf roommate. His family was generationally deaf, parents, siblings etc. Some things he learned as my roommate:
Pots and pans are loud!
Vacuum cleaners make lots of noise...especially at 3 a.m.
Running water from a tap left on (again) makes sound.
Things I learned:
To put in earplugs before turning on his car.
Pacing in my bedroom makes enough vibration to wake someone up.
ASL is a full language and super cool.

- JekyllendHyde

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7. Escalators, vending machines, and people outside of your peripheral vision.

Source: iStock
After I got hearing aids I was amazed that escalators made noise. I stopped my wife from getting on one because it was so loud I thought it was broken. Vending machines make way too much noise, especially soda machines. Weirdest was that I didn’t realize that people can hear things that are behind them. This tripped me out because I think I relied so much on visual queues. Like you could stand behind me and talk and I’d have no idea you were there or what you were saying.

- _Stamos

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8. Flatulence

Source: iStock
Had a teacher with deaf parents and we asked him something similar to this. He had to explain to them (when he was a grown adult) that farting in public was rude. That was the first time, ever, that anyone had told them that farts have sound. Still baffles me to this day that nobody thought to warn them that everyone could hear them rip one off.

- NerdyWaffles

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9. Bugs

Source: istock
I'm not deaf, but have extremely bad hearing with the prediction of losing my hearing before 40 years old.
I didn't know bugs make noise! I saw movies and shows where flies or mosquitos or bees would make buzzing sounds. I always thought that was created for TV to show that there is a small flying bug nearby. Kind of like, "Hey you can't see it because it's small, but you all know this noise means its there!" 
It blew my mind when my husband told me that they genuinely make noise.

- AnonyMissMe

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10. Paper Bags

Source: istock
My first memory of sound (when I was 7), was my mother folding up a paper bag. The sharp crackling noise of the bag startled me so much I started crying. Things calmed down and I remember hearing gravel crunch and birds chirping and cars going past. . . I'll never forget that day.

- GrumpyOlBastard

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11. Toilets

Source: istock
After I got tubes in my ears I was startled by SO many things!!! The hospital toilet whose flush was like the roar of an enormous beast, the refrigerator which clicked on like it came to life in my presence or dropped a cacophony of ice cubes without warning just to warn me away if I got too close. Then came the electronics from the '90s that had high-pitched whines, ugh.

- nerdyberdy

My dad was pretty much deaf until he was 4. Apparently, after he came home from getting surgery, he freaked out after flushing the toilet because he thought he broke it. He didn't know it was supposed to make a sound.

- KillHitlerAgain

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12. Pots and Pans

Source: istock
Not deaf but in high school I took ASL classes. My teacher went to Gallaudet University and lived in the dorms (she was hearing). After a semester or two, she visited home and was awake late one night making some food in the kitchen. Her mom got up and basically yelled “what the hell are you doing?!” My teacher realized she was slamming cupboards and cabinets and being loud in general.
Funny how absence of sound makes you louder.

- megwilson66

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13. Cockroaches

Source: istock
Not deaf, but once in my ASL class there was a giant cockroach. Someone stomped on it, and all the students visibly cringed. My professor was amazed when we explained the crunch sound they make when you squish them.

- daniudo

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14. Each siren makes a distinct sound.

Source: iStock
I have several deaf cousins. One is in her 30s and just found out sirens make different noises. She thought her son was some kind of psychic genius because he would tell her an ambulance was coming or a fire truck or a police car...My other cousin is in high school. She has had several surgeries, plus she recently got some upgrades hearing aids, so she is hearing more than ever before. She now hates the beach because the sound of waves is "stressful." Also, her opinion of different songs has changed. Before, she would listen by feeling them (the vibrations) and now she can actually hear. Adam Levine/Maroon 5 is now super annoying, but it turns out she likes George Harrison more than she thought she would...

- violetmemphisblue

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15. Snoring

Source: istock
I hung out one night with a couple who was deaf. Their dog snored SO LOUDLY.. I pointed it out to them, and they chatted with each other, talking about their snoring dog. They had no idea that the dog snores. 
One of them knew about snoring, but the other didn’t even understand snoring in general. It was adorable and interesting. They put their hand under the other's nose to make it clear the dog was snoring.

- LiteralDetective

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16. The silent letters in words.

Source: istock
I started gaining weight from university stress and I didn’t know thighs made a chafing sound or a clicking sound from inner thigh seams shuffling against each other.
I have to remind myself that I am making noises in the kitchen when I want a late night snack because I am usually not wearing my hearing aids when I’m at home (they give me terrible feedback because of my long hair).
I had read description of birds tweeting in the early mornings from closed captioning of shows and when I read novels. I didn’t experience it myself until I upgraded my hearing aids a while ago and asked my roommate, “What’s that echoing high pitch sound in the mornings? It reminds me of a whistling song.”
The “t” in “listen” is considered silent but I still pronounce the “t.” I’m going to pronounce every letter in a word unless I’m corrected which has led to some interesting discoveries. Such as: Chevrolet. The “ch” is apparently pronounced more like an “sh” so I was saying “Chevy” with a hard “ch” similar to saying “chicken.” English is awful and it’s my main language.
I have a profound sensorineural hearing loss and hearing aids help me hear very well. But there is a difference between hearing and understanding a noise. Yes, I hear you but, no, I don’t understand you. I hear chaotic noise all the time with HAs and need a visual to understand the noise I am hearing.

- deafymirmir

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17. Planes

Source: istock
My friend got dual cochlear implants and she was amazed that she could hear a plane even though it was so far away. Also she burst in on her son peeing because she heard his pee in the toilet. Hearing the ocean blew her mind because the sound was everywhere and she couldn't pinpoint a single source.

- NotReallyARaptorYet

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18. Clocks

Source: istock
Clocks. When I first got activated in 1999, one of the first sounds I heard was a clock ticking. My speech pathologist and I were having our first session until I finally asked what that ticking noise was. I remember it being annoying. After we figured out it was the clock, I realized I had a world of different sounds to learn. It was a big moment for me.

- Budlaps

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19. TVs

Source: istock
My nephew got hearing aids when he was about four.
Got home and sat down to watch some TV whilst my sister made lunch.
A few moments later my nephew comes into my sister all excited.
Mummy, mummy the man on the TV is talking.
My sister cried.

- bsutto

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20. The voices of the ones you love.

Source: istock
Recently bit the bullet and got hearing aids. All my life I’ve had that shrill constant noise — tinnitus. Never thought much of it but decided, what the heck, get my ears tested. When I put those things on the first time it was overwhelming.
You know that scene in 'Man of Steel' where he can’t regulate the noise? It wasn’t that intense, obviously but it was tough.
It was like suddenly developing a SUPERPOWER and when I adjusted, holy smokes.
My three little ones call them my cyborg ears.
And I can hear them say that. Their voices are so beautiful and I didn’t even know it. My wife... ah to hear her is like gorgeous music every day.
Water trickling.
Small birds cheeping.
Fabric rustling.
I could go on.
The only thing I can compare it to is imagining the ability to add a layer of infrared to your vision.
Everything is amazing and I am in awe of the world every day.
My god.

- Protobaggins

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