This is the emotional moment a deaf couple hear each other’s voices for the first time in 12 years of marriage – after their cochlear implants were switched on.
Neil and Helen Robinson have both been deaf since birth and have communicated through sign language, lip reading and failed attempts at using hearing aids.
But they have become the first-ever couple to receive cochlear implants at the University of Southampton Audiology Implant Service (USAIS).
They underwent surgery to implant tiny electrodes in their skulls and are now starting to hear for the first time in their lives.
The emotional moment the devices were first switched on was captured on video – with Neil, 50, at first joking that he didn’t like the sound of his wife’s voice.
But he added: ‘I am getting used to it now. It felt incredible, in a happy way. It felt really emotional.’
Amazingly, Neil reckons his new-found hearing could have saved his life after stepping out of the way of an oncoming car after hearing it before he saw it.
The couple, who live near Salisbury, Wiltshire, were born deaf due to their mothers contracting rubella during pregnancy.
Despite their audio impairment they have lived full and happy lives – they have raised a son and Neil is an Assistant Curate at Salisbury Cathedral.
Helen, 54, tried for two years to persuade Neil to have an implant and he finally agreed after frustrating attempts at using hearing aids.
They first underwent surgery by Tim Mitchell, a consultant Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon at the Nuffield Health Wessex Hospital in Eastleigh, Hampshire.
The implant consists of two parts which sit on the inside and outside of the skull just above the ear and are joined by a magnet.
Information from the processor on the outside of the skull is sent to 16 electrodes on the inside, which then send electrical pulses to the brain.
The devices were switched on at the centre in January and they were tested with sounds such as a beating drum and a musical triangle.
Paul is filmed fighting back tears as he hears sound for the first time in his life.
The implants will now have to be fine-tuned and it is not clear how much hearing they will eventually recover.
USAIS has fitted 1,000 of the gadgets since opening in 1990 but this is the first time they have been supplied to a couple.
Cochlear implants were originally only thought to only benefit people who had recent lost their hearing and already had speech and language skills.
But Dr Mary Grasmeder said they are increasingly being used to treat people who have been death since birth.
‘People who have been deaf for some time don’t have the same expectation of sound will be like compared with someone who has just lost their hearing,’ she said.
‘Because their auditory system is not so well developed it will be more difficult for them to process the information and to understand it.’