Meet our awesome team of youth advisors.
We are absolutely thrilled to be introducing the members of our Youth Advisory Group (YAG).
These four talented young leaders are passionate about supporting New Zealand youth who are Deaf, hard of hearing or have a hearing-related condition.
The Youth Advisory Group meet regularly with NFDHH to help us shape the future of our youth programmes. Moving forward, NFDHH want to ensure that the youth voice is a visible part of our organisation and will play a vital role in our decision making, as we make plans for our future.
“A lack of captions on online services can mean that Deaf youth miss out on being part of things their peers are watching or listening to."
Gaby - Coromandel
I was diagnosed with hearing loss when I was 3 years old.
I have 2 cochlear implants and I use English and NZSL, as both have their benefits.
I love film making, art, and writing. I'm also very passionate about support and access for Deaf people. This can include, NZSL other sign languages, captioning
on TV and streaming services, and ensuring physical environments are Deaf-friendly.
While funding and support for captioning continues to increase, the rate at which media is being consumed online is also increasing. A lack of captions on digital platforms can mean Deaf youth miss out on being part of things their peers are watching or listening to. We need to consider accessibility in a more universal way.
Accessibility and flexibility is so important when it comes to living with hearing loss. I am glad that I am able to use the NZSL video relay service, because I am unable to use a phone to make or receive calls. This allows me to be more independent than if I relied on one language alone or only had access to a standard telephone.
“I would tell my younger self to be proud of my hearing loss and own it.”
Franziska - Dunedin
I am hard of hearing, and I wear hearing aids.
I care about New Zealand's native wildlife and bush, as well as primary school education. I'm also very passionate about accessibility for the Deaf and hard of hearing, and would like to see more captioning on social media.
It is super frustrating when I just want to watch a video, and I can't understand what people are
Another issue I see Deaf and hard of hearing youth facing is employment. Finding jobs can be incredibly challenging, with misconceptions about being Deaf or hard of hearing adding to this challenge.
I would tell my younger self to be proud of my hearing loss and own it. To acknowledge what I could achieve and do, and to speak up when things aren't right.
"I believe a challenge that Deaf and hard of hearing people are facing today is the lack of awareness - that there are different types of hearing loss and we may have different
"I did not realise how helpful [hearing aids] were for my mental
health and education."
Madeleine - Auckland
I was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss as a young child. I wear hearing aids, and I have been learning NZSL for a few years now.
I'm passionate about art, particularly Māori and Pasifika art. In my previous job at Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tāmaki, as a gallery assistant, I would run daily tours and had the opportunity to share my expertise on Pasifika art with international and national visitors.
I'm also enthusiastic about spreading awareness for disability and mental health on my social media platforms. I began speaking out after I reached my lowest point and decided to seek help. As I learned to accept my hearing loss I decided to go back to wearing hearing aids after six years without them, and to learn NZSL.
It's important to raise awareness because hearing loss is an invisible disability. Unless you notice someone is wearing hearing aids or a cochlear implant, you wouldn't know they had a hearing loss. Also, there are many who choose not to wear them.
I believe a challenge that Deaf and hard of hearing people are facing today is the lack of awareness - that there are different types of hearing loss and we may have different needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted these gaps in awareness. With people wearing masks, it became quite difficult to lip-read, read their facial expressions or pick up on what they’re saying - even if we are wearing hearing aids or using speech-to-text apps. Communication was difficult and unfortunately these apps often did not work because of background noise, and because voices behind masks are muffled.
A piece of advice for my younger self would be to place my hearing aids inside their case every night before I went to sleep. I had worn hearing aids since I was six years old but I did not realise how much they were worth, or how helpful they were for my mental health and education.
"I have learned to see APD as a gift and I hope to inspire others to
see the beauty in their experience."
NFDHH looks forward to sharing more about the Youth Advisory Group in our upcoming stories.
Eleanor - Canterbury
I was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder in my teens, and I’m currently studying towards a Masters in Sociology at the University of Canterbury.
I am passionate about using my studies to help fight for equality and equal opportunities foryoung people who are Deaf, hard of hearing or have a hearing disorder. Since my diagnosis, APD has taught me a lot about empathy, strength, perseverance and the importance of community.
I have an identical twin sister who has been very supportive of my APD journey. I hope that by sharing my own experience, this will help other young people who also have APD.