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Interview with deaf travel host Alana Nichols

deaf travel host

Photo by Simon Wang

Deaf travel host Alana Nichols has done it again. Her award-winning travel show Follow Alana has delighted viewers and critics alike. Its new season was just released and looks to be every bit as entertaining.

Exploring Switzerland

In this new season, deaf travel host Nichols promises to show us everything in Switzerland, including a Heidi-like village and pastoral scenes of this beautiful country. Along the way she will interview Swiss tennis professional Roger Federer, hike mountain trails, and even eat at the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant.

Photo by Simon Wang

“I’ve always been curious about cultures and lifestyles that are different from my own,” Nichols told FlickDirect. “Guided by my travels to different parts of the world, I’ve seen our universality and it’s broadened my perception of life, a discovery I hope viewers feel when watching this series.


Growing up with hearing loss

Nichols was born with a rare form of deafness called common cavity malformation. Her family, who lives in Taipei, Taiwan, looked for help in America and Europe before finding it in Australia. There, a specialist finally agreed to perform a cochlear implant. It was experimental due to her diagnosis. The surgery had a near-zero chance of success, but it worked. This changed everything for Nichols, she says.

Hearing and ear care is important to Nichols. In fact, she was a speaker at the 2021 World Health Organization Report on Hearing. In her speech, she thanked her mother for being her champion and helping other families with hearing loss in Asia.

Read more: How to make the ultimate deaf travel kit

The 13th episode of Follow Alana came to digital platforms (Apple+ and Google Play) in the U.S. on March 19. The series was originally produced by Aurora Media. Wildwood Studios and JAN Media are distributing the series. Follow Alana debuted in 2017. Past seasons have explored Taiwan and Australia.

Interview with Deaf Travel Host Alana Nichols

HLM: What was your childhood like?
Alana: I had a unique childhood as a deaf person who grew up in Taiwan. My type of deafness makes it extremely difficult for me to understand Mandarin. I was fortunate to have dedicated parents who instilled in me a strong sense of self-advocacy.

HLM: How did you do in school?
Alana: My mother taught me from a young age to advocate for myself in school. This played a huge role in my success because my needs were unique compared to my hearing classmates. For me, it was important to sit in the front of the classroom, ask questions, and often meet with teachers during their office hours to clarify topics and assignments.

HLM: Before becoming involved in Follow Alana Switzerland, what were your hopes and visions for your future success?
Alana: As an adventurous extrovert, I strongly enjoyed connecting and working with people in large group environments. I hoped to have a career that allowed me to both be active and have a positive influence in some manner.

HLM: What made you choose to go into presenting as a career?
Alana: Growing up, I often presented at various organizations and saw firsthand the difference it could make. I strongly enjoyed connecting with people through public speaking.

Photo by Simon Wang

HLM: In high school/college did you associate with any deaf students?
Alana: Growing up in Taiwan, I did not know any other deaf people.

It wasn’t until very recently that I found a wonderful tribe of deaf friends like myself who have had a positive impact on my life.

HLM: Are you involved in any deaf groups, organizations or charities?
Alana: During the pandemic, I worked in a deaf ensemble that put together various skits relating to scenarios that deaf people often face. It was an educational and collaborative experience that involved multiple communication methods and exposed me to the diverse ways deaf and hard of hearing people communicate.

HLM: As someone involved in the media, do you feel obliged to highlight deaf issues or is this important to you as an individual?
Alana: I feel it is valuable to bring representation to the screen (as someone who did not see any growing up). My goal was not only to spread awareness on ear and hearing care, but also to change the narrative surrounding deafness and hearing loss.

HLM: How would you sum up your mission as a presenter?
Alana: While my mission as a presenter is continuously evolving, I hope to bring more representation to the field of ear and hearing care and change the narrative around hearing loss.

HLM: How do you see your role and what do you hope your audience get out of the show?
Alana: I believe various audiences will take away different things from the show. Not only do I want to bring representation to the screen. I also hope to share with the audience topics I’m deeply passionate about such as travel, animals, inclusion, and a sense of excitement for adventure.

HLM: What advice would you give to other deaf or hard of hearing would be presenters?
Alana: Every deaf or hard of hearing person is unique. The main message I’d leave people with is to be their authentic selves.

Author Details
Phonak hEARo, Phil is an actor, writer and journalist who writes in the deaf WellBeing and Lifestyle areas. He lives on the beautiful North Yorkshire coast with his wife Raine and their three children. Phil was diagnosed in 2016 and has moderate to severe Sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and constant tinnitus. He uses Phonak silver Nathos Auto M hearing aids. Member DANC (Disabled Artists Networking Community)