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This deaf performer loves showing off hearing aids on stage

Many in the hearing community assume that people with hearing loss will always tend to take a backseat when it comes to being in the public eye.

Someone should have explained this to Karla Marie Brown, as she is a deaf performer. She models, dances and sings. She’s also deaf and proud of it.

Discovering her hearing loss

This deaf performer didn’t start out that way – deaf, that is.

“I studied performing arts for four years,” Brown says. “Having started my professional training at Evolution Foundation College in Essex in 2015, I then went on to complete a three-year training course at Wilkes Academy of Performing Arts in Swindon. I graduated on the 6th July 2019.”

The now 21-year-old began having problems hearing during her last year of high school. Her struggles were ignored until she began training in college.

“My mum started noticing me missing things she said and playing the TV too loud,” Brown says. “I then spent months going to and from hospital appointments meeting ENTs and audiologists who I didn’t quite fit well with, until I finally found a wonderful audiologist who listened to my needs.”

This time the audiologist suggested hearing aids to Brown. It was during this period — while she had her aids ordered and was waiting for them to arrive — that she began to wonder just how hearing loss would affect her future as a performer.

“How would I be able to dance if I couldn’t hear the music?” she wondered. “How would I sing if I couldn’t hear my voice? How would I live a normal life if I couldn’t hear the things I used to?”

Adjusting to hearing aids

Karla found that the answers to these questions were far more positive that she would have ever imagined.

“The thing is, I could and I did,” she says. “I learned to feel the music through the floor of the studio. I trained my voice using muscle memory and I live my life just like anyone else.”

“The thing is, I could and I did.”

Brown has found that adaptation is her not so secret Super-Power. And in the process she found that she began to love performing even more than she had before.

Hearing aids helped by providing not only some of the once lost sounds, but also a sense of pride and self-confidence.

“I am proud to wear my hearing aids,” this deaf performer says.

Read more: Community spotlight: Meet the circus performer with hearing loss

Performer goals

Since graduating from college, Brown has been kept busy auditioning and training for her chosen career within the entertainment industry.

“Music is part of my everyday life and I don’t know what I would do without it,” she says.

Modeling has been a recent addition to acting and singing and is something she really enjoys. It also gives her a chance to show off those hearing aids. Brown’s biggest goal at the moment is to appear on screen. A regular goal setter, Brown doesn’t worry about if or when. She is used to setting a goal and moving toward it, regardless of how hard it might be.

Sometimes we meet people who are full of talent as well as the kind of restless energy that tells us that they are really going places. Karla Marie Brown is definitely one of those people. She is inspirational and the perfect example of people with hearing loss really living their dreams.

“I want people to know that they can do anything they want to do even with hearing loss,” the deaf performer says. “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t, because you can. Be proud to wear your hearing aids and show them off. My hearing aids are now an extension of me and I love to decorate them to match my personality. I love having big and bright hearing aids, because I like people in the audience to see that even with hearing loss you can do anything. I want more than anything to inspire young people to do what they love, no matter what obstacles may stand in their way. You can do anything!”


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)