Billy 2.0 – The Beginning of the End

Every cochlear implant blog I’ve read is the same. I thought I’d be the one to buck the trend.

Unfortunately, I’ve done exactly the same thing that everyone blogging about the journey to getting a bionic ear does – stop updating their blog at about six months after switch on.

I don’t know why, but everyone seems to stop writing at around that point. I always wondered why. Was it because they were too freaked by the new sounds to think straight? Or was it because they’d just run out of new things to say?

I haven’t run out of things to say – in fact I have a lot I want to say still… but what’s happened is that I woke up one morning, and the implant was just… normal. Ordinary, even. This is probably one of the last few blogs I’ll write, so I’ll just get it out there. Continue reading “Billy 2.0 – The Beginning of the End”

Deaf Filmmaking: Skyfall, Dummy Jim, Silver Linings Playbook and more


The last time I went to the cinema was to watch Skyfall.

Not a lot of people know this, but I watched it on the day that I was supposed to be going under the knife for my bionic ear. That morning, the roof of the operating theatre developed a leak, so my wife and I decided to go to the movies instead.

Skyfall was the last film I ever watched in a cinema with hearing aids. I was in an operating theatre having unspeakable things done to my skull a couple of days later.

Fast forward six months, and I’m a guest of the Edinburgh Film Festival and 104 Films. I’ve got a tray of extra large nachos on my lap, and I’m watching director Matt Hulse introduce a film that he’s spent 12 years working on. That film is Dummy Jim. Continue reading “Deaf Filmmaking: Skyfall, Dummy Jim, Silver Linings Playbook and more”

I saw a painting today…

…were the words I read on a friend’s facebook status this morning.

This was the painting, featured on Winship Creations’ facebook page. Click on the painting to read the comments.

Cochlear Implant by Winship Creations

It appears to show a young child having a cochlear implant bolted onto their head with a hand drill, and without any anaesthetic. It’s deliberately shocking, and seems to depict the agony and torture of having a cochlear implant.

It’s obviously designed to shock and provoke, and to reinforce the deaf community’s sense that cochlear implants are innately evil.

The facebook friend who commented this morning said: “The comments I read were sickening. I wish to make my voice heard – controversial or not. How can people make very generalised comments and expect such comment to be relevant to each child or even adult.

It is an individual choice, individual situation, individual beliefs, individual dream. Bottom line is do not judge if you do not know the facts. I’ve stood back and let ignorant people judge me or others, but not anymore. Enough is enough.”

I completely agree.

Google Glass: The Deaf community’s disruptive innovation

The video at the top of this page is an interesting time capsule. It’s Eric Sykes, talking to Jack Ashley on See Hear about his special glasses, which are in fact hearing aids. They use bone conduction technology to transmit sound into his inner ear.

A year from now, Google will be selling a pair of glasses that transmit sound to the wearer through bone conduction. However, unlike the specs that Eric Sykes wore, Google Glass has the potential to change deaf people’s lives forever. Continue reading “Google Glass: The Deaf community’s disruptive innovation”

The day I almost went to a deaf school

The other day I started going through my address book in some sort of attempt to be grown up and organised. I was shocked to find that of the 3,500 people in my contacts list, quite a few of them had passed away in the last few years. There was my Grandma’s mobile number, who I used to text every now and then to keep her up to date.

Then there was my Uncle Ging, who passed away a few years ago in South Africa. It was strange to see his email address in my contacts list. I almost reflexively sent him a message, to see if he would reply.

Uncle Ging and Uncle Richard

That’s him on the left. His actual name was Christopher, but my family always had an interesting attitude to naming conventions. He’s pictured here next to my other Uncle, known as Richard, for that is his name. Continue reading “The day I almost went to a deaf school”

Billy 2.0 – Blogging on the BBC

Billy and Barnaby on the BBC

Sorry for the lack of updates recently – in the last month I’ve celebrated my birthday, Christmas and danced in an RAF Uniform on New Year’s Eve.

When fellow BBC employee Damon Rose asked me to join him in Broadcasting House for an interview for the Ouch! podcast, I couldn’t say no.

I also wrote a new piece for them about why I had the implant, and where I am with it now.

There will be a transcript of the radio interview on the page as well, I believe. That contains a rather unorthodox hearing test and some interesting chat about whether deaf children should have cochlear implants…

I hope you like it.

Further reading:
Switching on my Hearing – BBC Ouch!
Interview transcript

Billy 2.0 – What does a Cochlear Implant sound like?

I’d like to ask you a favour, if you’re reading this. Can you watch the video below, and tell me what speech and music sounds like to you in the comments section below?

There are several clips of speech and music – I’m assuming that the implant I am getting will be closest to the 20 channel samples you hear on the video.

This is an approximation of the sound of a cochlear implant using sound editing software.

Read the comments on the video here. A couple of CI users there who have said that they can hear a marked difference between ‘normal speech’ and that video!

What you may find is that if you listen to the video more than once, the speech and music becomes clearer each time. This is the brain ‘learning’ the sounds for you. This article explains how that works in more detail.

This link may also be interesting. PBS Video

I look forward to your thoughts.