But the Brazilian mother of three wasn’t always so comfortable talking about hearing loss.
When her own hearing journey began at 17 years old, after she had a Cholesteatoma removed from her right ear, she left the surgery completely deaf in one ear.
“Having single-sided hearing loss starting in my teens was hard,” Soares says. “I lost my sense of sound direction completely.”
“Having single-sided hearing loss starting in my teens was hard.”
Soares says she struggled in big groups of people and dreaded school presentations. During those years, she was never offered a hearing aid, no one introduced her to a support group and no one taught her how to cope.
“That I avoided situations where I would be afraid of making a fool of myself because of my hearing loss and geared towards environments that I felt more comfortable in,” she says. “It wasn’t a conscious decision, but it makes sense that I did that because I had no advocacy so there was a lack of self-empowerment and self-acceptance when it came to my hearing loss.”
That all changed when her second son was born.
“At first it was hard to believe Jason had hearing loss because I don’t have a family history of hearing loss,” she says. “We began doing some genetic testing and nothing was coming up. He was just born with it.”
Besides the type of hearing loss they had, the big difference between her son’s hearing loss and her own, Soares says, was the support system.
“We had professionals from our district knocking at our door and helping us figure out our options.”
Soares says she also worked closely with her school district, which had a Center for Early Intervention on Deafness program and a Total Communication Program, where children learn both sign language and oral communication.
Her son, who started with a Phonak hearing aid, was implanted with a Cochlear Implant when they found out he was profoundly deaf at age four. Soares then inherited his hearing aids, then decided to be implanted with a bone anchored hearing system herself, to better address her conductive hearing loss.
Throughout her family’s hearing loss journey, Soares says she turned to art to address the cause that she was passionate about.
“I love how unique everyone’s journey can be on their relationship with their own hearing loss,” she says. “I also love the challenge of visually expressing the relationship humans with hearing loss have with sounds. No one’s journey is the same and there’s no right or wrong.”
“No one’s journey is the same and there’s no right or wrong.”
Soares creates paintings, sculptures and mixed-media art pieces, many showcasing the diversity of deafness.
“I’ve (recently) started campaigns with specific topics around hearing loss,” she says. “I just did one for Cochlear Awareness Day asking for pictures of people with CI’s playing musical instruments, and I am still looking for pictures of people with hearing loss showing their ears to inspire my future paintings.”
While her art is a way to fulfill her own passions, she also hopes it inspires others to embrace each other’s differences.
“I see this tendency of wanting to put labels and trying to fit people into boxes and this concept of what’s right or wrong,” she says. “A relationship a person with hearing loss can have with sound and communication can vary greatly and we can learn a lot from each other. Don’t ever assume because some is deaf or hard of hearing that their life or experiences in life has to be a certain way. That’s very far from the truth.”
Read more: Artist reimagines Disney princesses, superheroes with hearing aids
To view more of Soare’s art, visit her website, MyLuckyEars.com