Don’t let hearing loss limit you: this year’s theme for World Hearing Day from the World Health Organisation. We asked Shelley Ferreira, one of our Hearing Impaired Patients to share her story with us. World-traveller, Graduate and winner of Miss Deaf South Africa and Miss Ballito, Shelley is a true example of not letting hearing loss limit you. She shares her story with us:


I was born deaf due to the Cytomegalovirus my mom contracted when she was pregnant with me. The virus left me with 0% hearing in my left and about 40% hearing in my right ear.

It wasn’t until I was about 2 years old when my parents realised I wasn’t speaking like a normal toddler should. This was when my parents were told I was deaf, and therefore decided to fit me with a hearing aid at my local audiologist.

My mother gave up her day job and took me to the Carol Du Toit centre in Cape Town where she learnt how to teach a deaf child to speak. With this new knowledge, she would play barbie dolls with me, imitating conversations between the dolls and getting me to understand how a conversation flowed.

Thanks to her, I now speak like any typical person should. I’ve often been told that I’m not really deaf because I “speak normally.”

My parents decided to send me to a mainstream school. In the beginning, I struggled heavily with big classrooms but eventually learnt how to sit where I would benefit the most. I would often also ask the teacher to repeat themselves or to give me extra lessons, which helped greatly. I went on to matriculate with a Bachelors Pass.

Afterwards, I went on to study for 3 years at Vega School where I obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Immediately after, I was offered an internship at a national radio station, working as their Multimedia Designer, which eventually turned into a full time job.

Towards the end of my study years, I entered Miss Deaf South Africa and won. I used the title to bridge the gap between the hearing and deaf community by hosting free Sign Language workshops. I also competed in Miss Deaf World that was held in Prague, Czech Republic and placed in the top 5.

Since travelling to Prague, it sparked my love for travel. I also met the love of my life that same year. We got married 2 years later and together we have travelled to over 20 countries.

Fast forward to today, and I’m now happily working at Jellyfish, an international company with offices all over the world.

I often tell myself that being deaf doesn’t limit anything you do in life. I can do anything except hear properly. If anything, being deaf does have its advantages, such as not hearing my hubby snore at night!