People Who Were Deaf At Birth Share What Sounds Surprised Them The Most

By: Kish
November 01, 2019

Most of us take our senses for granted. So imagining what it would be like to hear certain sounds for the first time can be almost impossible. But for those born deaf who gained hearing later on in life, the simplest joys are the most exciting ones.

With technological advancements like hearing aids, and cochlear implants, which are electronic devices that replace damaged inner ears deaf people are gaining their sense of hearing for the first time. The internet is full of inspirational moments captured on video of people hearing for the first time. Which made us wonder, what sound surprised them the most?

In a thread on Reddit, many people detailed the sounds that surprised, shocked, and even terrified them. Noises like the toilet flushing to their own breathing took some people aback. While most don’t even know what certain sounds at first, they are often intrigued to find out that it’s nothing like what they expected. Some objects, actions, and sensations that seemed to surely emit sound also didn’t.

Here are some of the most incredible stories about people who were deaf being surprised by sounds.

The Silence Of The Bunnies

From Redditor /u/RottenCactus:

My cousin was born deaf and went through an operation to recover part of his hearing when he was 12. He sometimes uses hearing aids but can get by without them in general. His family had a bunny, Tupu. Of course, he had learned about cows mooing and cats meowing before he had his surgery.

His cousin had high hopes of what Tupu would sound like.

He was very shocked when he came home and greeted his bunny that it made no sound. It took the longest time for him to understand that bunnies are pretty quiet animals in general. He explained he thought all pets were loud.

Another user responded, confessing one sound that has shocked him has been rodents and other creepy crawlies.

Honestly, I’m hearing [for the first time] and have a hard time with the sounds of rodents and lagomorphs. They’re usually not audible to us when they make noise because it’s so high pitched. When I can hear them, it’s so high that it just doesn’t quite sound real.

Annoying Fluorescent Lighting

From Redditor /u/firefly212:

My old roommate in New York got implants [when] he was 25 or 26. He was shocked that the radiators in the house didn’t make noise. He could feel them [so] he was absolutely sure, given their shaking and vibrating from time to time, that they were going to be quite noisy.

When this New Yorker realized lights produce sound, he was very disappointed.

On the flip side, he was deeply annoyed by the buzz of fluorescent lighting, which he did not expect to make noise.

Varying Volumes

From Redditor /u/X0AN:

I had a childhood friend that gained hearing and she didn’t realise you could control the volume of your voice.

Whispering really confused her.

So when I whispered to hear she said, ‘hang on I think I need to adjust my hearing aid.’ At first, I just thought, ‘oh it mustn’t be working,’ until I realised what was going on.

But practice makes perfect.

She whispered to me for about two weeks solid just to practice. Yes, she also practiced shouting, but we did that in secluded woodlands.

The Birds And The Bees

From Redditor /u/Golden_Moth:

My friend was got his hearing at age 6.

Despite being so young, he still remembers what surprised him the most.

He swears to this day that he thought flowers would make some sort of noise and that’s what attracted bees.

Parental Snack Retention

From Redditor /u/stitchpuke:

My good friend who’s hard of hearing told me how before he got hearing aids, he thought that all fridges made a beeping sound like an alarm when you open them so the house knows when you’re getting something.

His imagination wasn’t to blame.

[It] turns out his mom just told him that to stop him from eating all their snacks.

Socialized Screaming

From Redditor /u/pwn3dbyth3n00b:

I had a friend who was born deaf but got hearing aids. She always thought people yawning were people randomly screaming so it always confused her why people would be screaming in the library, movies, at church, and in public.

Despite the confusion, she accepted it at face value.

She never asked why were people screaming because she thought it was normal. After she got the hearing aid she thought she’d be hearing people scream when they yawned.

“Are Kids Always This Loud?!”

From Redditor /u/bojanglesround2:

My dad progressively went deafer as life went on and was almost 100% deaf by around age twenty. He got a cochlear implant when I was around seven years old. [When he] put them in, he asked my mom, “Are the kids always this damn loud?”

This dad didn’t want a bar of it.

And proceeded to take the cochlear implant off so he didn’t have to listen to my little brother and I yelling. [I] always thought that was funny.

Pitter Patter

From Redditor /u/BexyBep:

My 3-year-old son is deaf, and we just had a visit this morning from his signing teacher who is also deaf herself. She recently had cochlear implants fitted and while we were talking/signing she said: “I’m sorry, I can’t concentrate, I can hear a horrible constant noise, it’s not stopped the whole time I’ve been here.

It was one of the most pleasant sounds in the world.

Turned out it was the rain on the conservatory roof.

The Original Twitter

From Redditor /u/ResplendentShade:

When I was in high school, I spent most of my mornings (loudly) talking to my almost-deaf friend. One day he showed up and said he had a new hearing aid. I didn’t have to yell at him to get him to hear me anymore!

Hearing this sound for the first time was oddly shocking for this highschooler.

A few minutes later he asks what “that noise” is. I asked which noise, listening and hearing nothing out of the ordinary. “I don’t know, it’s like a weird beeping, almost musical, really bizarre but actually kind of pleasing”. Took me a minute to realize my man was hearing bird song for the first time in his life. It was a pretty cool moment.

Millions Of Bugs

From Redditor /u/ducttapeforum

My girlfriend is not deaf, but she is hard of hearing which means that she can’t hear high-frequency sounds.

But gaining her hearing was a little shocking.

She recently got hearing aids that amplify these frequencies and [she] was shocked to find out that birds and crickets chirp, to the point that she thought the birds were trying to attack her. [She] was horrified that we were surrounded by “millions of bugs” when I explained what the crickets were.

Bathroom Acoustics

From Redditor /u/Samok1:

I was born deaf and got a cochlear implant when I was 27.

They didn’t realize their visits to the toilet were so rambunctious.

I had no idea that going to the bathroom makes so much noise and that people could hear all kinds of embarrassing noises. Explains many weird looks I got before.

The Terrifying Flush

From Redditor /u/1stTimeRedditter:

I was born with impaired hearing but had an operation to fix it when I was very young. My dad loves to tell the story of me coming home for the first time with clear hearing. I get home, go to the bathroom to do my thing and flush. Except I had never heard a toilet flush before.

While it seems like hearing things for the first time would be a wonderful experience, a lot of firsts seem to be scary.

I bolted out of there in tears, screaming for my parents because I couldn’t handle the shock that the toilet made that much noise.

Foreground Noise

From Redditor /u/d_rickards:

My son got hearing aids about 6 months ago. He had a mid-range hearing loss at about 50% total loss.

Their son was shocked by background noise and had to work to get used to it all.

Shocked at how much noise rain made, he also was surprised to learn that when he rubs his hand across fabric, leather seats, and clothes it makes noise. He had to discover background noise at 12-years-old and then go through the process of making it background noise.

His biggest challenge? Voices.

The biggest change for him was learning that people have different voices. He could generally tell male from female, but he said that basically women all sounded the same and men all sounded the same. I guess pitch was completely absorbed by his hearing loss.”

*Jiggles In Japanese*

From Redditor /u/ProvocativeSkeleton:

I dated a deaf guy who thought boobs made noise. He once signed to our friends, “The jiggle in anime, how loud is it?” And we were so confused. We were like “they don’t make noise.”

Needless to say, he wasn’t happy.

He was pissed because his anime shows apparently had noisy tits and his captions told him so.

Heavy Wheezing

From Redditor /u/KenDMann:

At the audiologist’s office, I put on my hearing aids for the first time ever. Then I proceeded to drive to work. Along the way, I kept hearing a wheezing sound and at first, I thought there was something wrong with the car’s exhaust system.

The noise wasn’t coming from their car at all.

Finally, I realized that what I was hearing was my own breathing.

Alien Invasion

From Redditor /u/deviles:

I thought I was going mad because of the constant “Scary Movie 2” sound I’ve been hearing.

For most people, the whirring and buzzing of overhead planes are easily identifiable but this Reddit user had no idea.

I explained it to my boyfriend as “aliens taking over the Earth”. Turns out it’s just the [sound of] planes going overhead.

Wink Wink

From Redditor /u/sanguine24:

Had a friend of mine who was born deaf but underwent surgery for a cochlear implant when he was 20.

This Redditor’s friend expected blinking to be a lot noisier

When we meet for the first time after the surgery he told me that he was absolutely dumbfounded when he realized blinking made no sound.

The Soft Purr Of A Kitty

From Redditor /u/ichbinschizophren:

My partner is deaf but got his hearing aids early enough that he can’t really remember what it was like before them.

The soft purr and hum totally surprised this Redditor’s partner.

He [recently] had his hearing aids upgraded and was suddenly able to hear my cat purring and asked me what the weird noise was. It was cute watching him put his hand on my cat, then taking it off, then putting it back, ‘matching’ the vibration to the noise [the cat was making.]

The Click Clack Of Shoes

From Redditor /u/PhiliaRavon:

[I was] born deaf but gained hearing aids in middle school. What blows my mind and still does is the sound of your own footsteps. I still cannot get over sounds of the boot or high heels clacking.

They changed their own footsteps accordingly.

I’ve also grown accustomed to making my own footsteps quiet that I always startled people when I approached them or go into a room.

Soft Wooshing

From Redditor /u/Dead-Phoenix:

I’m not completely deaf but I have a decent amount of hearing loss. When I got my hearing aids I kept asking my mum what that noise was. She kept naming things; cars, people, [but] in the end we realized it was the wind.

They couldn’t believe it.

I know it sounds silly but I honestly didn’t know the wind made a sound. I always knew people said it went ‘woosh’ but I assumed they meant that was the feeling.