Model Tasha Ghouri, 23, is gearing up for a summer of sun, fun and (hopefully) love on ITV2’s Love Island.
But even before entering the Majorcan villa and meeting host Laura Whitmore for the first time, Tasha made history as the reality TV programme’s first ever deaf contestant.
Many will have seen the dancer’s cochlear implant before, as she went viral last year after it was visible in her ASOS modelling campaign.
But what is a cochlear implant, and how does it work?
What is a cochlear implant?
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that can help with hearing.
According to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), cochlear implants ‘provide a sensation of hearing to those who have severe to profound deafness’.
RNID explains: ‘Instead of making the sound louder, like a hearing aid, implants use electrical signals to directly stimulate the auditory nerve (the nerve that carries sound from the cochlea to the brain).’
Part of the device sits on the outside of the ear, while another part is surgically implanted underneath the skin.
The internal part involves placing electrodes on the cochlea, while the external part has a microphone and a transmitter coil.
But what’s the cochlea? It is a hollow bone in the inner ear, shaped like a spiral. It is an important factor in the sense of hearing, as it is filled with fluid and picks up vibrations.
The vibrations are picked up by countless hair cells in the cochlea, which translate them into electrical signals, which are then transmitted to nerve cells, the auditory nerve and brain.
The implant seems to somewhat replicate this process. The microphone picks up sound, which become electrical signals, transmitted by radio wave to the electrodes on the cochlea. The electrodes are able to send a tiny electrical current to the auditory nerve.
Cochlear implants aren’t an option for every person who is hard of hearing or deaf.
According to the NHS, there are other types of hearing implants, depending on the reason for deafness – including auditory brainstem implants and middle ear implants.
Not everyone who is deaf or hard of hearing will want an implant or an aid, mind, with many preferring to communicate using British Sign Language (BSL) or another sign language.
In Love Islander Tasha’s case, she was born completely deaf, and was given a cochlear implant at age five – as she explained on Instagram: ‘I have sensory loss which means the small hairs in the cochlear were missing and damaged when I was born. We don’t know why.’
Cochlear implants can take years and years to get used to, as well.
Tasha also said on Instagram that her ‘brain has adapted to it’ over the years – but that she also relies on lip reading, body language, and can also sign using BSL.
She added: ‘When the outer piece of my device is taken off I cannot hear anything. I feel beats and vibrations. People sound a little robotic but my brain has adapted to it.’
Love Island airs tonight at 9pm on ITV2 and ITV Hub.Credit: Source