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Deaf Awareness Week 2021: Inspiring Deaf Role Models and Deaf Culture

In the spirit of Deaf Awareness Week, we will be celebrating and exploring Deaf role models and some aspects of Deaf Culture as part of our theme of #InspiringStories. The Deaf community has a rich and unique culture which, as with all other cultures, should be celebrated, promoted and respected. As part of this, we are keen to highlight the accomplishments of Deaf individuals and explore how they have used their success to champion and promote Deaf culture and the Deaf community.

Deaf Role Models

Within the Deaf community there are a great many individuals who are inspiring to the next generation and who have championed the Deaf community through their accomplishments. Below we have highlighted just a few great Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, their stories and achievements and how through their accomplishments, they have helped to promote Deaf culture and the Deaf community.

Punk Chef

Scott Garthwaite, also known as Punk Chef, is a professional celebrity Deaf chef and television presenter from the North East of England.  Punk Chef is known greatly for his on-screen personality and his colourful hot pink hairstyle and can often be found working on BSL Zone and BBC See Hear.   

Punk Chef carefully ladling sauce with his spoon over his beautifully coloured dish.

[Image by Punk Chef via PunkChef.co.uk, ©2020 Punk Chef, All Rights Reserved]

[Image Description: Punk Chef carefully ladling sauce with his spoon over his beautifully coloured dish.]

In recognition of his work, in 2013 Punk Chef was awarded the North East regional Sound Barrier Stars top award for his culinary talent and inspiration to the Deaf community for his work on screen as Punk Chef. Furthermore, he was selected to compete in the finals to represent England at the International Gastronomy Deaf Culinary Event in Copenhagen, Denmark as part of an eight-man shortlist in 2014.

Millie Bobby Brown

Millie Bobby Brown is an inspirational young actor who gained international attention for her role as eleven in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things.  Millie has partial hearing loss and is completely deaf in one ear and has joined a list of celebrities who talk openly about their personal experiences with hearing loss.  

Millie Bobby Brown in her red summer dress and headband signing eleven with her hands.

[Image by ELLE US via ELLE.com, ©Getty Images, All Rights Reserved.]

[Image Description: Millie Bobby Brown in her red summer dress and headband signing eleven with her hands.] 

Millie has won multiple awards for her acting in Stranger Things and has been involved with other big motion pictures, continuing to follow her passions. Not only does she love to act, but she also loves to sing “I just started to sing, and if I sound bad I don’t care, because I’m just doing what I love.” (Express Digest, 2017). 

Millie’s openness and transparency, publicly sharing her experiences of her personal hearing loss journey is inspiring and has helped promote Deaf awareness and some of the key issues that affect the Deaf community, bringing these into the mainstream media.

Dame Evelyn Glennie

Dame Evelyn Glennie is a skilful Scottish multi-percussionist from Aberdeenshire. Profoundly Deaf since 12, she has taught herself to hear in different ways. Evelyn is the first person in history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist, performing worldwide with some of the greatest orchestras, conductors and artists. In 1993, Evelyn was awarded an OBE and she has won over 100 international awards to date, including the Polar Music Prize and the Companion of Honour. Evelyn is the patron of several charities and regularly participates in events to raise money and awareness for organisations such as Great Ormond Street Hospital, Rett UK and Create.

Dame Evelyn Glennie posing for a picture in a black professional blouse with instruments in the background

[Image by Evelyn Glennie via https://www.evelyn.co.uk/, ©Evelyn Glennie 2020, All Rights Reserved.]

[Image Description: Dame Evelyn Glennie posing for a picture in a black professional blouse with instruments in the background.]

As a profoundly Deaf musician, Evelyn adapted her approach to creating and enjoying music, carving out a greatly successful music career which has also helped her to promote Deaf awareness worldwide. One of her greatest achievements was leading 1,000 drummers in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics as part of a collaboration with director Danny Boyle.

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Posted 3rd May 2021