Frank Barnes III
Rather than being bound and defined by it, I choose to embrace and willingly hold dear the world of inclusion that I experience every day through my hearing loss.
Experiencing Hearing Loss
Frank’s parents first noticed his symptoms of hearing loss when he was 18 months old. After intensive research and speaking with their peers in the medical field, Frank’s parents decided to have him tested. Soon after, Frank was diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears as a result of bacterial meningitis. When he was 22 months old he had cochlear implant surgery, and now wears a sound processor on his right ear.
“Pre-hearing loss only encompassed 18 months of my entire life,” says Frank. “Being deaf is ingrained in my identity from my earliest memories. To my parents, my life before hearing loss was nearly non-differential, and they’ve expressed that my spirit has been unmistakably recognizable all throughout my years.”
The Importance of Hearing Better
With his cochlear implant, Frank has been able to play all the sports he loves as well as participate in music and the performing arts. Frank is a working professional, hearing loss advocate, and public speaker. He has had opportunities to speak all over the country and is a member of various associations, such as Advanced Bionics, the Bionic Ear Association, Summit Speech School, Brother to Brother, Breaking the Chain Through Education, the African American Cultural Committee, and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).
While speaking at an event for the HLAA-NJ, Frank admitted that he used to be indifferent and passive towards the hearing loss community. As a teenager in middle school and in high school, Frank felt embarrassed by his cochlear implant. He was bitter about wearing the device and it negatively shifted his self-esteem. After many high and low points, Frank is now appreciative and grateful for the inclusion his device provides.
“As I (reflect on) my journey hearing loss, I have truly recognized my super power. I have pride in the formative times of my adolescent life, as they were key to my growth and development regarding who I am and how I perceive myself today.”
Why Frank is HearStrong Champion
Frank is a HearStrong Champion because of his cheerful and appreciative outlook and involvement with numerous organizations that help people with hearing loss. Although Frank has experienced frustrating times with his hearing loss, he never let that stop him from doing the things he loves, such as dance and advocating for his community.
“I am grateful to have come to truly happy terms with my hearing loss, particularly my cochlear implant, and I enjoy better hearing!”