Project Description

Filmed over nine months, The Sound Barrier follows a number of people who have made the decision to receive a cochlear implant and captures their individual remarkable journeys from silence to sound.

The ability to hear is something that most people take for granted. While for some deafness is a cherished identity, for others it’s a barrier to overcome.

In 1995, Dr. Laura Viani carried out Ireland’s first cochlear implant in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital. She now heads a world class team of surgeons, audiologists and speech and language therapists. Over two decades, the National Cochlear Implant Programme has profoundly changed the lives of over 1000 Irish patients. A cochlear implant is an electronic device that allows deaf and hard-of-hearing people to again experience sound, bypassing the sensory ‘hair cells’ of the cochlea to send signals directly to the auditory nerve.

Gemma Lawlor is a mother of two from Clonee who yearns to hear her name being spoken again.

Tina O’ Brien & Michael Kavanagh are the young parents of one year old Tegan. They hope that their daughter’s bilateral implant (operation on both ears simultaneously) will allow Tegan to acquire language skills.

Richard Cantwell is a father of two from Dublin whose progressive hearing loss has robbed him of his lifetime passion for music.

The documentary follows the unique stories as they individually prepare and undergo cochlear implant surgery with unprecedented access to the corridors and operating theatres of Beaumont Hospital to capture this uplifting story from the front line of the Irish health system.