As the Captain of the Canadian Deaflympics hockey team, Johnny Kyte serves as a confident leader and advocate for the deaf community, both on and off the ice. He recently connected with the team at Starkey Canada to share his story. Read more about his experience growing up with hearing loss below!
Tell us about your hearing journey. What were some of the biggest challenges you’ve had with your hearing loss?
Johnny - My dad and almost his entire family are hearing impaired. I was tested as I was born or shortly after.
I can’t remember a time without hearing aids because I started wearing them when I was a baby. Things have never been different for me. Some of my first memories are of me having my mom help me put in my hearing aids.
My biggest challenges have changed since I have continued to grow up. When I was a kid in school it was the feeling of being included. It felt weird that I was different than all the other kids who could hear an instruction once and perform the task. Meanwhile, my teacher would use a microphone that would allow her voice to go directly into my hearing aids while I wore an FM system. Some kids were mean, and I would hear not very sincere things. As I got older, it was missing important information or mishearing so I learned to never assume.
People like to comment on what they can see. Since I love who I am, I embrace it and get very colourful hearing aids!
Why is hearing better so important?
Johnny - Hearing is one of the basic forms of communication between you and the other person of whom you are speaking to. It also plays into what hearing impaired persons are already able to do. Reading lips and body language comes naturally to me and many others like myself. To add sound to those habits we already pick up on makes our world come alive. The person of which we are speaking to comes alive. Sound is almost like the colour in a world of black and grey at times.
Do you think there is any stigma or embarrassment wearing hearing aids?
Johnny - Oh yes! Sadly there is and I go through it every single day. One might think, “the phone won’t go up in volume any more, he/she won’t be able to hear”. It isn’t a bad thing though, we are just different and have many great stories to tell! I get embarrassed all the time, but sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and go for it. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
What would you say to someone who was on the fence about getting help / hearing aids?
Johnny - Everyone needs help. Everyone. It is the exact same scenario as when you are lost and you ask someone local from the area for directions. It takes courage, however if something could change your life for the better, would you do it? Find your person, take that first step. Hearing aids make your story that much better.
Follow Johnny and interact with him on the following platforms:
You can also see Johnny featured on the Canadian Deaf Sports Association Facebook page: