Olivia Williams is reading Applied Arts and Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology (US), and received her first cochlear implant at age 5, after losing her hearing when aged four.
1) Would you consider being deaf and a cochlear implant user part of your identity? Why, or why not?
Yes, I do consider myself as a cochlear implant user as a part of my identity because when I became deaf at 4.5 years old and was implanted with my first cochlear implant at 5 years old, my parents taught me to accept myself and my deafness as a part of my identity and today, I am very proud to be a cochlear implant user!
2) You have a twin sister who is typically hearing, do you feel that has affected your relationship with your sister in anyway? What about with the rest of your family?
With my twin sister being hearing, it was hard to communicate with each other while we were growing up, particularly ages 5 to 8 because I was learning to listen and talk with the implant and to process language, ie, not at the same “level” as her but as we got older, I finally got to catch up to her and now we have a much closer relationship. With the rest of my family, my parents have been super supportive from the beginning to now and my extended family have grown to accept and support me as well with my deafness.
3) What are your dreams for yourself as an individual in the future?
My dreams for myself as an individual in the future is to graduate with my degree in Applied Arts and Sciences with my concentrations in Psychology and Advertising/Public Relations and I would love to work with a non-profit organization where I can travel and meet individuals or families to change lives from any product that they will benefit from but right now, I’m not sure what type of product I would work on with the organization.
4) There are many negative stereotypes and connotations that come with being a cochlear implant user from both the hearing and Deaf communities, how do you think that could be changed?
To be honest, yes things should change with the negative stereotypes and connotations since I myself am a cochlear implant user, I believe people in the hearing (deaf) and Deaf communities need to listen to each other, learn about our differences (similarities), and eventually accept and support each other in different communities.
5) Any final thoughts you would like to share with the Sound Advice audience?
I would just like to thank you for the support and for contacting me.
(Interview compiled by Miranda Meyers).