Bleeping pedestrian crossings, car engines and ambient alarms are noises most people filter out of everyday life.

Few even notice the gentle lilt of birdsong as they sleepily scramble to switch off their annoying alarm clocks.

But for a Shropshire mother-of-two these are new sounds to be savoured and enjoyed.

Until January Joanna Brown, who lives in Market Drayton, Shropshire, with her husband Michael and their two sons Alex, aged two, and Lewis, aged four, was almost 100 per cent deaf.

She developed large vestibular aqueduct in both ears while in the womb, and had just ten per cent hearing ability when she was born.

From the age of 18 months, the bubbly 27-year-old had lived in a virtually silent world and was dependent on NHS hearing aids and her lipreading skills.

That all changed last month when she took part in a cochlear implant study being carried out by University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB).

Today delegates from around the globe will be taking part in a two-day conference organised by the trust, at the Birmingham Hippodrome,

For more than 25 years, Joanna Brown had to imagine what the world around her sounded like. As an international conference in Birmingham explores new hearing technology, she tells Health Reporter Emma Brady how a cochlear implant changed her life looking at how this technology may develop in the future.

Mrs Brown, who has been treated at Selly Oak's Hearing and Balance Assessment, Rehabilitation and Research Centre (HARC) since she was 18, admits she was initially reluctant to try the new treatment.

However the microtechnology used to recreate one of the most valued human senses has made a huge difference to her life.

"When I first found out about the cochlear implants, they were still very new and I was a bit worried about having it done really," she said.

"I had the operation at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as part of a study into the procedure in January.

"Before I had the surgery, I had grown used to what I could pick up through the hearing aids but afterwards I was shocked by how much I could hear. I finally realised how much I'd been missing out.

"Things like hearing bird song for the first time proved to be quite emotional and exciting, although that can drive me mad sometimes."

A cochlear implant consists of an internal electrode inserted into the inner ear, replacing the damaged hair cells responsible for hearing.

This is then connected to a speech processor worn behind the ear.

They have variable levels ranging from normal environments to whisper mode, for quieter conversations and settings.

Mrs Brown said it had taken her a while to adjust to all these new sounds.

"Before the operation Alex and Lewis would have to get my attention and talk to my face but now I can hear them wherever they are in the house - in fact now I get worried if I can't hear them," she said.

"A few days after I left the hospital, Michael and I were sat at traffic lights and I heard some sort of alarm. It was the pedestrian crossing bleeping.

"My brain's been getting used to all these new sounds, whereas before I had to imagine what people and things sounded like." The change in Mrs Brown's hearing ability has been so significant, she is now keen to return to work.

As a teenager she remained resolutely independent and was determined not to let people know she was deaf.

She said: "I feel so much more confident now because I had got to the stage where I wouldn't go out because I felt self-conscious.

"Before I had the boys, I was a graphic designer at the Lilleshall Sports Centre but after they were born my hearing deteriorated even further. That's all changed now and I'd love to go back to work.

" I would urge anyone with similar problems not to rule out these implants. It has certainly changed my life."

Delegates at the conference will hear more inspirational stories like Mrs Brown's and look at technological advances that can lead to even better results for deaf children and adults.

It is being hosted by the Midlands Adult Cochlear Implant Programme at UHB and the Birmingham Paediatric Cochlear Implant Programme at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

The Midlands Adult Cochlear programme, one of the biggest in Britain, was established in 1990 and since then hundreds of people across the country have benefited from the procedure.

Huw Cooper, a senior audiologist at Selly Oak Hospital, said:"Nearly 200 delegates from the UK and overseas are expected to share the latest research and advances in this field. This is also a wonderful opportunity to show the great work we are doing here."