Talented musician Oliver Howes was among the first hearing aid wearers in Australia to receive the new Phonak Virto Black. This Bluetooth-connected hearing aid embraces wearable technology trends with its sleek black form. Oliver’s new hearing aid is helping the 18-year-old work toward his dreams of inspiring people with his music; and showing the world that hearing loss is nothing to hide.
Oliver has dealt with hearing loss throughout his life. He came into the world, with his twin sister, much earlier than anticipated at 26 weeks’ gestation. His severe prematurity and prolonged time on the ventilator is thought to have resulted in his deafness, which was diagnosed when he was three months old.
Despite Oliver’s mum Holly doing all she could, Oliver’s speech was delayed due to the close relationship between hearing and speech development.
Reflecting on Oliver’s first hearing aid experience still makes Holly emotional. “One of the most memorable moments for me was when Oliver received his first hearing aid. He was given only one, but it was enough to emphasise sounds that he had never fully heard. He held my hand with an enormous smile on his face and stamped up and down the hospital corridor, fascinated by the sound of his footsteps!”
Oliver’s love of music started during his years without sound. With limited vocabulary, at age two and a half Oliver asked for a guitar – a request that would ultimately change the course of his life. Displaying a natural affinity for music, he would always move towards it instinctively, pressing his ear against the piano if anyone was playing.
Oliver received his first Phonak hearing aid when he was 13 and his family were living on a boat, with plans to sail around the South Pacific. Oliver says these hearing aids “revolutionised his music” during the family’s travels. By the time Oliver was 15, he and his family had arrived in Australia; and Oliver was accepted to study at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School for his final years of schooling.
Oliver has proven that life with hearing loss can be lived to the full. His passion for music has seen him win several awards and competitions; and he and his family are thrilled with his new Virto M Black hearing aids, with mum Holly saying “I cannot thank Phonak enough for what they have given our family.”
With a bright future ahead, Oliver looks forward to using the sound quality and connectivity of his Phonak Virto Black hearing aids to help him reach and inspire the world with his music. “To me, music opens the door to another world where there are no barriers and endless possibilities,” said Oliver. “It’s a place of fulfilment, happiness and inspiration. Music brings people together and expresses all that can’t be said.”