Having fun with hearing aids

Barney  Nolan
I have a hearing impairment. Sometimes my hearing loss has its advantages. I can ignore people. I can sleep without being disturbed. I ruined my old hearing aids. I put them in the washing machine and clothes dryer. My new hearing aids are amazing. I can hear so much more. I am lucky to have had many adventures. I have worked in the gold mines of New South Wales. I have worked in the cane fields of Far North Queensland. Now I work and live in Mansfield, Victoria. I have a daughter named Charlotte. Life is good.
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Barney Nolan on 09/01/2012
Uluru in Central Australia at sunset, with two trees in the foreground

I have worked in the outback.

I lost a third of my hearing at birth. My mother has the rare blood type Rh-. This caused her blood cells to attack me before I was born.

My hearing loss has its advantages. It allows me to ignore people when I feel like it. I can sleep like a dead person and play music loud enough to entertain the neighbours.

I live on the main street in Mansfield, Victoria. It can become busy during the snow season. The first week I moved in, my landlord asked me how I was coping with the noise on the street. I showed my hearing aid and said, What noise?

Hearing aids

Hearing aids are expensive. It would be cheaper to buy ear muffs for everyone else instead. A while back I found my hearing aids in the clothes dryer. They had also been in the washing machine. They were clean but ruined.

I was probably due for an upgrade anyway. My new hearing aids are amazing. I now appreciate that fridges and computers make whirring sounds. And that the barking dog over the back fence is almost annoying.


I was quickly nicknamed pinball wizard at school because of my hearing aids and eye glasses. The concentration required to listen in the classroom knocked me out. I often fell asleep. There are dents in my head caused by teachers hurling objects at me to stop my daydreaming. I never fell asleep in English classes. I have always enjoyed writing. It is my only creative outlet.


I have been lucky enough to do all the jobs and adventures I dreamt of when staring out the classroom window. I have travelled around Australia extensively. I have worked as a jackeroo in New South Wales and Victoria. I have worked in shearing sheds, the cane fields of Far North Queensland and the gold mines in Western Australia.

I was a park ranger in the Northern Territory and have had various deckhand jobs. I worked in Aboriginal communities north of Broome and have managed organic farms in the Byron Bay area.

I am now driving concrete trucks around the town of Mansfield. I love it. I am getting paid to explore. My boss gave me the loudest truck in the fleet. This is so I can hear it when it starts up. He wears hearing aids too.


I have a three year old daughter named Charlotte. She is going to be a mermaid when she grows up. When she discovers something new, the expression of wonder and delight on her face reminds me of the important things in life. She is very patient with me when I am driving and I can't understand what she's saying from the back seat. To some extent, I rely on lip or face reading. I struggle in loud environments or situations when I can't face a person speaking to me. But life is good.

In my spare time I write short stories about outback adventures. I keep fit with taekwondo and teach meditation. I contribute to the community through the local Apex club. I hope to travel the Gibb River road through the Kimberley Ranges for my next adventure.

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You don't have to have great hearing to have a great life!

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