Monday, November 1, 2010

Miss Deaf International Princess discusses being a role model in South Africa

From The Times in S. Africa:

Vicky Fourie (pictured) on being deaf

Were you born with this condition?

We don't know exactly what caused my hearing damage . When I was a baby, I had a high fever and we think that's what caused it.

When I was two years old, I never responded when my family called my name, and after extensive tests at the hospital, it was confirmed that I have 97% hearing loss.

However, my parents didn't look back. Instead of asking, "How big is this problem?" they asked "How big is our God?"

I'm grateful they reacted this way, for it enabled me to learn how to speak like a hearing person and read lips. I even went to a hearing English school, despite Afrikaans being my home language.

There were many obstacles along the way, but I overcame them by believing that "courage isn't a gift, it's a decision".

Are you happy with the way our society treats disabled people?

It would be great if television stations used more subtitles. I try to keep up with the world by reading the newspaper, books and magazines.

Medical aid also doesn't cover all of the costs of the hearing aids. Why do they think it's vital to wear glasses, but not hearing aids.? Helen Keller once said that "Blindness separates you from objects, but deafness separates you from people."

Communication is the most important function in this world. If you cannot communicate, you feel alone.

How does it feel living among people with normal hearing?

As a kid, I never thought I was different.

I always thought my hearing aids were something that I had to put on to hear better, like people wear glasses to see better.

However, there are times when I feel left out, for instance I can't speak on the phone, listen to the radio or go to movies.

But I have adapted to my situation - I SMS or send e-mails. And instead of going to movies, I rent a DVD and watch it with subtitles.

What are your biggest challenges?

Probably being in large groups. Everyone tends to speak at once, and I can't really follow what's going on.

What do you dream of achieving?

I'm already achieving my dreams - I inspire others to dream big and not to let anything hold them back. At the moment I'm a motivational speaker, I speak at schools, events and functions. I've received numerous e-mails and letters from girls saying that Hannah Montana is no longer their role model, that I am. It's an enormous honour.

I'm busy writing my autobiography. I love writing - I've published more than 70 magazine articles, nationally and internationally. I would love to have my own TV programme in the future.