Because of a rare genetic condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta, Brian Travers progressively lost the capacity to hear during his adult years. Travers was unable to hear anything at all when he first woke up in 2008, after a brain hemorrhage that had put him into a coma for three weeks.
Before Travers had surgery to restore his hearing with a cochlear implant, he was completely dependent on lip-reading to communicate. At the appointment to activate her husband’s implants, Travers’s wife was wearing a window mask.
During the pandemic, Travers designed and sold these masks to protect people from the virus while still allowing others to read their lips.
She put her hands over the rectangular piece of plastic that made up the mask and said, “Can you hear me?” Are you sure you’re not reading what’s on my lips? “It’s a little echoey, but I can still make it out,” he asks her to repeat what she just said.
She says it again and over again, “I love you.” Erin Travers described the experience as “almost like witnessing your kid be born. The only thing I’ve ever known about him is that he has trouble hearing.
It is impossible to put into words the look of sheer happiness on his face when he was finally able to hear me say, “I love you.”
Although it may take some time for his brain to adapt, Travers is looking forward to spending more time with his wife and children. When he goes outdoors, he is forced to retrain himself to recognize the noises that he hears, and he has said that individuals seem “cartoonish.”
Even though it’s not something that comes readily to him, he can still read lips, and it makes him happy when he’s able to match what he sees to the words that he hears.