Hearing aid allows Mellissa to reach her dream

UOW student Mellissa Thompson with her mum, Fran, who is wearing her daughter's Roger Pen. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

UOW student Mellissa Thompson with her mum, Fran, who is wearing her daughter's Roger Pen. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Earlier this year, Mellissa Thompson considered dropping out of university.

Despite being eager to fulfil her goal of becoming a visual arts teacher, the 28-year-old graduate diploma of education student was finding following her tutorials at the University of Wollongong difficult, her hearing aids not quite enough to allow her to follow fast-paced conversations in the classroom.

Ms Thompson was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss in both ears at 13, following complications after surgery for a brain tumour.

Although she has had hearing aids for the past 12 years, listening and following conversations in loud spaces remained difficult.

That changed a few months ago when she received a Roger Pen from UOW, a device that wirelessly transmits voices without background noise directly to her hearing aids via a receiver worn around her neck.

Suddenly, listening to her family, friends and fellow students was a breeze.

"When I started uni, I didn't have this and my confidence really dropped," she said. "I was going to drop out. It was all too much for me, without it.

"But it was like a miracle device. With just my hearing aids it's like a big dust cloud of noise coming into my head all at once, but this articulates the voices."

She said it had been especially helpful during practical teaching placements, making voices in the classroom more distinct.

"With it, it's much easier, not only to hear the students but to navigate where they are in the classroom," she said.

"It's changed my life."

Vicki Christie, manager of Australian Hearing at Shellharbour, said the Roger Pen was one of many communication devices that allowed people with hearing loss to better navigate noisy environments.

"The advantage of this device is that it transmits a voice directly into the hearing aids," she said.

Australian Hearing provides the devices for people up to the age of 26.

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