High school senior Jordan Hollahan has mild, sloping to severe, sensorineural hearing loss.
That means he has a hard time hearing higher-pitched sounds than lower-pitched tones. "I was actually born with crushed lungs," Hollahan said. "I was dead. The machine that they put me in is what caused my hearing loss."
With hearing aids in both ears, he's learned to deal with being hard of hearing in the classroom. Through elementary school he used an FM system, one that has the teacher wear a microphone and allows him to hear the teacher's voice more clearly. As it is for a lot of students in his situation, moving to junior high was a little more difficult.
Jordan Hollahan says he learned to adapt to help him hear and has been able to pick up music, singing and acting in musical theatre productions. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC) "As I got older, switching from class to class, it was obviously harder," he said. "I'd have to remember myself to get the microphone from the teacher and take it to my next class. So as I got older I stopped using it."
That's not uncommon. He got used to it and said he taught himself to adapt. Since then he's gotten into music and sings a capella. As his final year of school at Mount Pearl Senior High comes to a close he has to write provincial public exams. When he got the handout at the start of the school year, one thing stood out to him.
"Right in bold letters, 'listening,'" Hollahan said. "I was shocked because several years it got taken off. It was done. It was not on the English 3201 exam at all. Then last year they brought it back." In the past, hard of hearing students like Hollahan could opt out of the listening portion without prejudice. Then the department of education brought it back and the listening portion is worth 10 per cent of the final grade.
"That doesn't sound like a lot, but when it comes to getting into a college or university that could be an extra 10 per cent that I would have on my final grade that I won't have if I don't do it."