Like many 24-year olds, it’s no surprise that Yaren, a university student from Turkey, is active on social media, regularly sharing photos and stories with close to 900 Instagram followers.
But, while other students might be posting about their weekend exploits, Yaren (@yarenskblge) actively promotes awareness of hearing loss and cochlear implants – not only to those considering surgery, but also to a broader audience.
Instagram has become a powerful platform to share what it’s like living with hearing loss and the impact of a cochlear implant – something Yaren is very passionate about.
Sharing a profound experience
Yaren received her implant and a CochlearTM Nucleus® Kanso® Sound Processor just three years ago, after living with hearing loss since age one.
Since then, her experience has been so profound, she has dedicated much of her personal life and education to raising awareness about hearing loss, learning about audiology and helping others.
“I felt that the day of my implant surgery would be the turning point of my life, which is exactly what happened. Before the implant, I had no idea about the sound of a bird or wind, for example. I had to ask my mother ‘what sound is that?’ And with great enthusiasm and excitement, my mother replied, ‘Listen! This is the sound of a bird!’
“Thanks to the cochlear implant, I began enjoying music better, distinguishing voices better; I was not reading lips as much as I did, and my communication became so much better.”
It’s this enthusiasm that Yaren wants to pass on to others.
Reaching the hearing community
“This is not a goal I want to achieve for the hearing impaired only. I want people without hearing loss to be aware of individuals with hearing loss and know how to treat them.”
Among Yaren’s many videos on Instagram is a Q&A with her mother about how a family can help someone with hearing loss as well as her own interview with an audiologist from Cochlear on the importance of cochlear implant surgeries. She also shares insights into her personal implant journey plus tips for the wider community on how to communicate with someone with hearing loss.
“I feel delighted and excited when I work on raising awareness. That’s because I receive very positive feedback,” she says.
“Many people ask me, ‘What should I do? What do you suggest?’ What makes me happy the most is when they write to me, ‘I wasn’t going to undergo surgery but then I did after watching your videos.’ There is nothing more gratifying. Touching other people’s lives and making them happy gives me happiness too.”
Raising awareness can be fun
Yaren also features a celebrity video featuring Turkish actor and screenwriter Mert Fırat in a “balloon popping challenge” in which a surprise “pop” helps people without hearing loss to understand the importance of hearing even insignificant sounds. It was designed to raise awareness about World Hearing Day.
“My number one goal about audiology is awareness. Audiology is not well-known in our country. I need to work to show what audiology is and why it is so important. People are always scared of the things they are not familiar with. The more we become aware of a topic, the braver we get and the better choices we make.
“While my family was exceptionally sympathetic, there was a lot they didn’t know. I don’t want people with hearing loss to live a life without being aware of certain things, as I did.”
Yaren’s ambitions for the future
With support from her family, Yaren graduated with qualifications in audiology in 2020. Now, she is studying for a master’s degree in the same discipline at Istanbul Aydın University with a view to a career involving cochlear implants.
“I decided to choose audiology so that I could help minimise the problems of people with hearing loss like me and give them hope. I want to show the individuals with hearing loss that they should enjoy a good life, be at peace with themselves, have aware families, and be happy – and to tell them they should have no obstacles if they really want to do something.”
As a result of her passion for advocacy, Yaren is looking to forge a career that brings together marketing and audiology.
“I may work in the field of advertising, marketing or consulting around cochlear implants. I want to communicate all the innovations, reach a larger audience, and enlighten people. Unfortunately, many people are still unaware of cochlear implants. I want to inform people about cochlear implants, stand by them and help prevent them from falling behind in their lives,” says Yaren.
“I want to hold their hands and show them they are not alone.”