Deaf myths debunked: Part II

What are some of the most common myths about deafness that d/Deaf people encounter on a daily basis? In today’s article, we reveal another deaf myth and introduce four accomplished artists who prove that deafness does not stand in the way of a successful music career.

Myth 2: Deaf people can’t enjoy music.

Spoiler: Deaf people not only can enjoy music, but they can also compose and perform it.

There is a notion that music can only be heard, and therefore can only be appreciated by hearing persons. It is often quite a surprise for hearing people to learn that d/Deaf persons not only enjoy music but also sing and play instruments. So how do d/Deaf people enjoy music? Music is multisensory and d/Deaf people sense vibrations in the same part of the brain (auditory cortex) that hearing people use when they listen to melodies and lyrics. And according to studies, the experience d/Deaf and hearing people have when exposed to music is alike.

Now, let’s meet some of the artists who shatter myths and misconceptions about hearing impairments and music.

Famous people who debunk(ed) this myth

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) – one of the world’s most admired composers in the history of Western music whose works rank amongst the most performed of the classical music repertoire. Beethoven began losing his hearing in his 20s. In his 30s, he wrote to a friend, “For the last three years my hearing has grown steadily weaker. I can give you some idea of this peculiar deafness when I must tell you that in the theatre I have to get very close to the orchestra to understand the performers, and that from a distance I do not hear the high notes of the instruments and the singers’ voices.” Although Beethoven’s public performances slowed down due to his hearing loss, he continued to compose music until he died in his mid-50s.

Signmark – Marko Vuoriheimo (born in 1978) – a Finnish hip-hop and rap artist. He describes his music as party hip hop that takes a stand. Born into a signing family, Marko feels that society should not treat the d/Deaf as disabled people but rather as a linguistic minority with its own culture and history. With his music and positive approach, he tries to change attitudes towards the d/Deaf. He fell for hip-hop and rap music, both because of the beat and the possibility to talk about important issues through the music. Signmark has performed in over 30 countries around the world and has 6.47K YouTube subscribers.

Sean Forbes (born in 1982) – an American songwriter, percussionist, rapper, and activist, who became deaf as a baby as a result of spinal meningitis. Sean grew up in a musical household (his father is a member of a country-rock band in Detroit and his mother plays the piano). The loss of hearing did not hinder Sean’s ability to enjoy music – he could still feel the vibrations of the music through his hands and body. His family noticed he also had a keen sense of rhythm. While still in grade school, Sean learned to play drums and guitar and formed a band with his siblings. He also began writing songs. Sean released his first album, Perfect Imperfection, in 2012. The album included a DVD with videos for seven songs, allowing it to be enjoyed by both deaf and hearing audiences. Sean uses music to champion deaf awareness and Deaf culture through the Deaf Professional Arts Network (D-PAN), a non-profit organization that promotes accessibility and awareness in the arts and media industries.

Mandy Harvey (born in 1988) – an award-winning American singer, songwriter, and inspirational speaker. Mandy became profoundly deaf at the age of nineteen following an illness. She became known in 2017 after appearing in “America’s Got Talent,” where she sang barefoot to feel the vibrations from the instruments. One of the judges, Simon Cowell found her music “breathtaking” and chose her as his ‘Golden Buzzer’ for the season. Mandy tours the world performing her original music and presenting her inspirational story of never giving up. Her mission to encourage and educate includes a 2017 book, “Sensing the Rhythm: Finding My Voice in a World Without Sound.”

Raise your Deaf awareness with #DIDYOUKNOWTHAT CAMPAIGN. We will debunk another myth on October 4.

Follow us and stay tuned to discover successful deaf actors!

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