Globally, more than 1.5 billion people live with hearing loss and although it affects one in five people, it is often seen as an invisible disability. To increase public awareness of hearing loss and empower users of hearing implants to wear their audio processors with confidence and pride, MED-EL is showcasing the creative talents of people who use cochlear implants, according to an announcement from the company. Under the theme “What does sound mean to you?” four professional artists have created designs that will form limited-edition covers for the MED-EL hearing implant audio processors. This project not only allows the artists to share their experiences with hearing loss in a creative way, but also gives them the opportunity to support and empower other hearing implant users on their own hearing journey, according to MED-EL. Their designs and stories will be showcased at the Audioversum in Innsbruck, a Science Center initiated by MED-EL.
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- Back to the Roots: Chella Man is a 24-year-old American artist, actor, model, and disabled and LGBTQ+ educator and speaker from Brooklyn, New York. His artwork features the continuums of disability, race, gender, and sexuality. Since the age of 12, he has been wearing cochlear implants, and with the implants he feels less isolated and is able to reconnect with the world again.
- The Joy of Sound Conveyed by Colors: Olivia Cranwell is an artist from Argentina who specializes in acrylic paintings. During her childhood, she lost her hearing in one ear, but as time progressed, her hearing worsened and at a certain point in her life she was profoundly deaf. Getting an implant was a difficult decision for her, but at the age of 50, after 15 years of not listening to music or being able to hear people talk to her, she chose a cochlear implant.
- Representing the Beauty of Hearing: Freddy Rode is an 80-year-old German artist who specializes in portrait paintings. He lost his hearing at the age of 44 due to an operation on his right ear and made the decision to get a cochlear implant just seven years ago. This decision not only restored his hearing, but also gave him his life back.
- Living and Feeling Free with a Cochlear Implant: Alessia Florea is a 31-year-old artist from Moldavia who currently lives in Turin. Tragically, when she was 3 years old, her parents’ house caught on fire – thankfully, she was saved, however, she lost her hearing as a side effect of the medication she needed to treat her injuries. It was this significant life event that led her to pursue her passion and love of arts and painting. When she was 22, she moved to Italy and received her first cochlear implant.
The special MED-EL audio processor design covers are as diverse as their artists. “At MED-EL we believe that creativity helps to drive innovation, which is why we’re very happy to collaborate with these four unique artists and help people around the world to express themselves through wearable art,” said Alexander Hofer, director of product management at MED-EL.
The design cover is part of a set of limited editions of just 2,000 pieces that will be given away in sets of four. Some of them can be won in a social media competition on MED-EL’s social media channels on Facebook and Instagram.
In addition, the designs will be displayed at Innsbruck in the Audioversum Sound Gallery from July 22-October 31, 2022.
Read more about the artists, their inspiration, and life with hearing loss at: blog.medel.com.