A TODDLER is switched onto to a brighter future after getting her hearing back.
Keira Ridley, now three, was diagnosed with hearing difficulties when she was just six weeks old.
Tests were carried out on the baby because she was born nine weeks early.
Since then, her parents John Ridley, 34, and Lynn Dryden, 33, have worked to ensure their youngster lives her life no differently to any other, despite her moderate hearing loss.
Now her hearing - and confidence - has been given a boost by a piece of kit which helps amplify the sounds picked up by her aids.
It also blocks out background noise, such as the sound of travelling in a car, which can make hearing voices or music more difficult to decipher.
The equipment has helped the Seaham family overcome the communication problems they faced before she got her first hearing aid at 18 months old.
John, a gas fitter, said: “Not knowing what type of hearing loss Keira had or the extent of it, affected us incredibly badly as we were constantly unsure of what this meant for Keira’s future.
“We were never sure if she was ignoring us or just simply couldn’t hear.
“Every time we put her to bed, we’d turn the lights off and say good night and we’d never actually know if she heard or understood because she couldn’t see our lips, it was devastating.”
Keira’s other senses have developed to make up for her hearing loss, but her ability to listen has been improved by the gadget, which works at the click of a button.
The Roger device is used to enjoy music, television programmes or by family and staff at Tavistock Day Nursery in Borough Road, Sunderland.
A microphone pen is worn by the speaker or put in the middle of a group of people and transmits speech from the microphone directly to the ears of the deaf person.
Teaching assistant Lynn, who lives with John and their daughter on East Shore Village, added: “It’s made a massive difference and she’s making all the targets for same age children, so considering she’s only been able to hear since she was 18 months old, it’s really made up for her hearing loss.
“The technology will benefit her as she grows up, so there are some features where she can connect up to a mobile phone when she is old enough to have one, which will be great.”
Keira was fitted with the Roger system, which is made by Phonak, by her audiologist Paul Minikin of FM Hearing Systems, with more information available via www.fmhearingsystems.co.uk.
l Watch a clip of Kiera and her parents talking about the benefits of the device at www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5_-87H9Frs.