Ashkan Tehrani doesn't hide his hearing loss, or that he is dependent on a hearing aid. He has not let it stop his insatiable appetite for life, nor has it stopped him achieving his goals. His strategy has always been to be open about his handicap. “I want to make my hearing my trademark, and if I misunderstand something, nobody thinks I am dumb if they know I have hearing loss,” explains Ashkan.
A persistent listener
Ashkan has not achieved his goals by doing nothing. He practices every day in hearing and listening to the radio, so that he is always improving his abilities despite his hearing impairment.
“I practice listening every day, like a sportsman trains every day so as to always make small improvements,” says Ashkan, who works in a large international windmill factory in Denmark. He is a development engineer, and it is clear that he loves his job. He has invented two things that have been patented.
The open plan office he works in can be a challenge for his hearing. Noise in the room, telephones ringing and conversations can make it difficult for Ashkan to hold a telephone conversation where he cannot lip-read. But as he says: “colleagues and other people have a ”?duty' to repeat themselves if I cannot hear them the first time.”
Technology in hearing has come a long way since 3-year old Ashkan received a pair of well-worn Russian hearing aids. Ashkan was born in Iran, where he lived with his family. When Ashkan was 4-years old the family moved to Denmark so as to get better help for their son's hearing. Today he has Blue Tooth in his hearing aid and uses a streamer and a Dictaphone. These tools make it possible for him to get the sound from the telephone directly into his hearing aid and he can hear his iPod in the same way. If he is at a lecture, he can give the lecturer a Dictaphone, through which Ashkan can, via an FM signal, hear what the lecturer is saying directly. His hearing aids do not just amplify the sound. Unlike the first hearing aids he had, the new ones filter the sounds around him and those Ashkan has trouble hearing are amplified.
Optimism is just as important
It is a plus for Ashkan that he is an optimist, who has always believed that his handicap would not stand in his way.
“I believe in what I do, and always do it with enthusiasm. As well as that, I'm also super curious.” He is convinced that people should take responsibility for their hearing impairments and always actively help themselves. Self pity does not help a person with hearing impairment one bit, and Ashkan can get angry when he meets the overprotective parents of the hearing impaired.
“It's the children that end up paying the price, if their parents wrap them up in cotton wool. They never learn to believe in themselves and what they can do,” says Ashkan.
“You have to believe in yourself and find out what you are good at.” That is what Ashkan has done with great success. He is a trained engineer, has a good job, lives with his girlfriend, he speaks Danish, Farsi, English and sign-language as well as body language. The first doctor to examine him predicted that he would not get very far in life. He was wrong.