“Hearing better has led me to be an empathetic person and to appreciate differences because that is what makes us unique. It taught me to never accept no as an answer. I can do what anyone else can just in a different way.”
Discovering Hearing Loss
Jan was born with hearing loss, but because hearing tests were not mandated at the time he was born, it went undiagnosed. As a baby, Jan’s parents noticed that he wasn’t responding to their voices. They had a strong feeling that something was different because when Jan’s older brother was his age, he was reacting to their voices and different sounds around him. When Jan was 2, his parents decided to take action and get his hearing tested. After seeing different doctors and having multiple tests done, Jan received his first set of hearing aids to help him hear and communicate orally. He doesn’t remember a time without hearing aids.
As a kid, Jan didn’t always accept his hearing loss. Instead, he tried to ignore it and covered his hearing aids so people wouldn’t ask him any questions. As he grew up, he realized his hearing aids led him to so many different opportunities. He learned that because of his hearing aids, he is able to be the successful food industry professional and actor that he is today.
“I no longer see my hearing aids as an inhibition but a motivational tool that helps show my existing personality and identity.”
His relationships with friends and family are strong today because he is able to hear them and express himself during conversations. He also appreciates when there are arguments going on between people around him that he doesn’t want to be a part of, he can simply tune out by removing his hearing aids. Jan is grateful for the little moments he is able to experience because of his devices like hearing his mom playing music, his dog barking at the door, birds chirping, and the wind rustling in the trees.
Why Jan is a HearStrong Champion
Jan is a HearStrong Champion because he never lets his hearing loss get in the way of anything he sets his mind to and is dedicated to making a difference in the world. He loves to travel and go on thrill seeking adventures like swimming with sharks and skydiving. He was told he couldn’t go whitewater rafting because he needed to be able to hear the instructor, but he didn’t let that stop him. He stood up for himself because he knew what he was capable of. Jan made sure to sit where he could hear and see the instructor and he conquered the river with no issue. His positivity and dedication to advocating for himself and others make him a tremendous role model.
As a child, Jan didn’t see people with hearing loss represented in the entertainment industry. He doesn’t recall ever seeing actors or characters on TV that wore hearing devices like himself. He is now determined to be that representation for younger generations. He is proof that despite having a hearing loss, you can still achieve anything in life. Through his acting career, he hopes to help remove stigmas and stereotypes about deaf people and make a difference in the world. He is constantly highlighting other actors with hearing loss and bringing awareness to how important it is to give deaf/hard of hearing actors the same fair chances that hearing actors get in film and TV.
“Every time I book a role for a commercial or film, I think back to myself that here is another opportunity to show to the world, educate, advocate, and represent a facet of the deaf community.”