Meet our Youth Advisors
Youth voices lead the way.
Our Youth Advisors support NFDHH's work with young New Zealanders. They help to shape our programmes and our upcoming campaigns to ensure their impactfulness and relevance.
“A lack of captions on online services can mean that Deaf youth miss out."
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.
"There are different types of hearing loss and we may have different needs."
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. I'm also enthusiastic about spreading awareness for disability and mental health on my social media platforms. It was only when I learned to accept my hearing loss that 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.
"I've learned to see APD as a gift."
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.
“I love music... I know that I could not have it. So, I enjoy it while I can.”
Hope - Upper Hutt
Hope has moderately severe hearing loss in her left ear. She also has constant Tinnitus, which she treats with a hearing aid that plays a sound to counteract it.
Living in Upper Hutt with her parents and twin siblings, Hope is a confident and eloquent 16-year-old, and from a young age, she has been a focused student. She has big dreams and aspires to be an advocate for those who have faced similar barriers in their lives.
“I’ve learned to worry less about how people perceive me and realise that, if people are going to judge me for the fact that I can't hear, then they're probably not the kind of people I want to be around anyway... When I was younger I thought a lot about what people thought of me, and if they were going to judge me. I wish I hadn't now, I wish I just lived my life.”
While hearing loss has created challenges, there are a few positives that it has provided. “It's made me much more grateful for the hearing that I do still have left and the sounds of nature that I can hear,” says Hope.
Interested in becoming a Youth Advisor?
We are always seeking new members for our Youth Advisory Group.
If you are Deaf, hard of hearing, or have a hearing disability, and want to use your youth voice to make a difference, please register your interest by clicking the button below.
* Applicants must be 16-24 and living in New Zealand.