Jacob Boland says when he sings, he relies on the vibrations of the instruments and cues from the conductor.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- From a young age, Jacob Boland says he has had a passion for music. After being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, Boland says music was a way to express himself.
"I started singing in my school choirs when I was eight in elementary school. Through high school, I was in the beginning men's ensemble and worked my way up into the advanced mix ensembles," Boland said.
Now at 22 years old, Boland is continuing to pursue his passion and is now a member of the Long Beach Camerata Singers.
In a crowd of 100 singers, harmonious voices can be heard echoing through the music room. But Boland says he can barely hear anything at all.
"In my left year, it's almost completely gone. I would say 90% of its gone and in my right ear it's about 10 to 15% of just very rudimentary sounds," Boland said.
In 2022, Boland says he experienced a life-altering turn of events. Boland says he had underlying conditions and contracted COVID-19 three times, causing him to lose his hearing.
"I go to the doctor and they diagnose me with sensorineural hearing loss," Boland said.
Boland says it was difficult to navigate the world around him in silence.
"I have forgotten what instruments sound like," Boland said.
But with the support of his peers, Boland overcame adversity and became the first deaf singer in his choir.
"It's wonderful to have someone like him in the chorus," said Jan Hower, President of the Long Beach Camerata Singers.
"It kind of more importantly puts into perspective what we can do without any obstacle and Jacob is willing to push past that," said Rohan Ramanan, a member of the Long Beach Camerata Singers.
Boland said being deaf isn't limiting his capabilities. When it comes to conversations, he typically reads people's lips. But when it comes to music, he relies on the vibrations of the instruments or cues from the conductor.
"I truly want to give people hope that there's a way around issues like these, problems like these," Boland said.
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