‘I lost my hearing when I was eight years old due to a rare medical condition but, despite being deaf, I have not found learning an instrument any more difficult than someone who can hear. It has spurred me on to be better at the clarinet.’
16-year-old Poppy Clough, from Llantarnum in Cwmbran, lost her hearing due to a degenerative condition called autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 1.
However, this did not stop her from learning to play the clarinet and now the teenager is working with Fixers to show what it’s like to be a young deaf person, and inspire others who have hearing impairments.
Her story was broadcast on ITV News Wales on May 4.
Poppy says: ‘I’m completely deaf, but I have a cochlear implant. This gives me a gives me representation of sound in the environment and, combined with my microphone, means that I can listen to music and play music too.’
Richard Williams, director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, supports Poppy’s campaign.
He says: ‘Research shows us there are over 3,000 young people in Wales who have hearing loss, and those people face stigma from society.
‘It shows up in barriers accessing university and progression through schools. There’s a real need for society to better understand deafness and hearing loss and the best way of doing that is for people to talk about it.’
As part of her Fixers project, Poppy spoke to Dame Evelyn Glennie, a Scottish virtuoso percussionist who has been deaf since the age of 12.
Praising the teenager, she says: ‘I think the work Poppy is doing is absolutely brilliant, really essential and important.
'I think that there’s no doubt because of the advancements with technology such as cochlear implants and so on that we can all expose ourselves to sound awareness and music making much, much more so there’s less of this categorisation of if you are deaf you cannot hear and therefore music is a closed door to you.’
Poppy talks about her passion for music.
‘People find deaf people playing music quite confusing. When I play the clarinet I don’t just hear it through my ears, I can hear it through feeling the vibrations in my fingers, you can hear using your hands and all of your body really,’ she says.
‘I’m hoping that my project will help the hearing community understand deaf people a little better and inspire other deaf children and hopefully improve everything for all deaf people.’
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.