Jonah Roberts was born profoundly deaf, but he hasn’t let that get in his way.
The 16-year-old Chevalier College student was diagnosed with bilateral profound hearing loss just after birth, and received his first hearing aids when he was six-weeks-old.
He attended The Shepherd Centre, a children’s charity that teaches deaf children how to listen and speak.
Jonah graduated from the Shepherd Centre’s early intervention program in 2008 with excellent speech and language skills.
Since graduating, Jonah has continued to thrive.
He is a keen public speaker and won first place at the 2014 First Speech Awards.
He also acted as the master of ceremonies in the opening of the Shepherd Centre’s Newtown campus where he introduced former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Jonah and his family credited The Shepherd Centre for helping him develop strong speech and language skills.
Jonah said the centre helped him develop confidence to communicate in a hearing world.
“They helped me be proud of my achievements and to not be ashamed of my disability,” he said.
“They’ve also hooked me up with the latest and coolest Cochlear devices.”
Jonah’s mum, Rachelle, said working with The Shepherd Centre was like having another family who gave Jonah the platform and encouragement he needed to succeed.
“It was a frightening time as a parent, but they were very supportive,” she said.
Without the support he had received, Jonah said he would have missed out on a lot.
“[The Shepherd Centre taught me how to] talk to my family and friends and hear their voices, play regular sports, listen to music, and enjoy the sounds of nature,” he said.
Jonah has always looked to the brighter side of his hearing loss and said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“If there was the opportunity to gain full hearing on my own, I wouldn’t take it,” he said.
“I can do what normal people do.”
He said it was much easier to have a good night’s sleep and he relished the chance to shock new friends who didn’t realise cochlear implants were attached to the head magnetically.
Jonah plans to study medicine and work in the medical field once he graduates from Chevalier College.
He said he had no interest in feeling sorry for himself and was certain his hearing loss would not hinder his dreams in the slightest.