In this episode, I chat to Erin Perkins from Mabely Q, who was tired of being told what she can’t do, from being written off from jobs or offered lower salary than her experience level, just because she was born deaf.
So she decided to start her own graphic design business.
Being a deaf entrepreneur comes with challenges, but after chatting with Erin, you will learn that everyone has their own challenges but it doesn’t have to stop you from progressing in your career.
Erin shares fascinating insights on her background, the barriers during her corporate careers, how she works with her (hearing) clients with the help of technology and what others can learn from her if they are thinking about starting a business.
You can listen to the podcast interview below, or you can read the transcripts by scrolling down:
Announcer: This is the Hear Me Out [CC] podcast, a place to hear stories from the deaf and hard of hearing people, and from your host, Ahmed Khalifa.
Ahmed: …thank you for being here. I have been very curious about what you’re doing, because we’ve been communicating back and forth.
And it made me realise that we have a similar business, in terms of, we work in marketing, and we help businesses grow with their online visibility, but you are more of a creative. You are more of a brand designer kind of thing.
So it got me curious because, as a person who is also a deaf entrepreneur, I was very curious to know about your experience, to share your story, and I think a lot of people can learn from that as well. So
that’s why I wanted you onboard, and I appreciate it. I appreciate your time. So thank you.
Erin: Yeah, I’m so glad that I found you. Someone had referred me to your … like, there was a conversation you had with somebody, and so I just started digging in. I was like, “This is cool, having someone that’s in a different country that is trying to do the same thing as me is really awesome.”
Ahmed: Awesome! That makes sense. So I think it’d be good to get into it, because I would love to talk about, obviously, your deaf background, but before we get into that, could you just explain briefly what is it that you do with your business, and what is your background around that?
Erin: So I was born deaf, so my parents have always made sure I had sign language and speaking capabilities. So I’ve thought that you need to do the best you can, get good grades, go to a four year college, get a job.
So I worked at a corporate for almost 12 years, and I was a graphic designer. Once I worked with them, I was actually laid off two years ago, almost to the day. Yeah.
And I kind of felt like they’d set me up in that aspect, even though they say they wouldn’t, because I had switched positions like 10 years in. And they really didn’t let me grow or do anything, because the position was more of digital assets management, which is because I’m really good at organising and creating that.
And I was like, “Well, this will be good for a second career.” I’d done graphic design for like 20 years, so why not try something new?
But I felt like I had so many roadblocks, being in the manager position, even though I wasn’t in it, I was in the leadership team, they still would be very resistant. So like, “Do you really need an interpreter for every meeting?” I’m like, “Yes, I do.”
I just thought there were so many roadblocks, that, they finally laid me off, I looked at it as a blessing in disguise, because, truthfully, I was like, “Well, I don’t want to go through this again with another company and just be stuck again.”
So I decided to start my business, and still being a graphic designer, and being like a virtual assistant into an online business manager for my clients.
And it’s really not that much different, because everything I do is on my computer. I use Zoom for any communication. I can have the relay service. I still feel like a huge part of it. The only thing I have major struggles with if I want to take online courses, a lot of them are not captioned. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh.”
But if I reach out to the small business owner, I’m like, “Hey, can you provide me with something so I can participate?” Most of them have actually been really awesome.
So that spun me off into wanting to focus more on acceptability in the online industry. Because I feel like that’s where most people are going. So getting away from the corporate industry, and wanting to do things more for themselves.
And it’s been really awesome, just reaching out to people, doing tonnes of podcasts, even though podcasts are not accessible for me. So that’s kind of funny.
Ahmed: It is funny. And I think I can totally relate to what you are saying about not captioned and it is a pain in the you know what.
And it’s just so annoying when you have all this content online and you want to access it, and you want to pay money for that, yet they are making it difficult for you to access those content, which is very annoying.
I agree with you about podcasts as well, because, yes, it’s not accessible to everyone, which is why, for me, it’s very important to provide transcripts, and that will make it accessible. It’s so simple. That’s all you have to do, just provide transcript.
So that’s why I also find it even more fascinating now that you’re using, as we speak, a relay service, and we have the option in the UK as well.
And because, for me, I don’t need it because I’m not fluent in sign language, in BSL, so it’s not my first language, but I do have my hearing aid. I do need captions. And sometimes, I do need transcripts.
So, it’s just, everyone has their own different level of what you require, what is your accessibility needs? So it makes sense.
And I love the fact that you’re actually the first person I have interviewed which is also connected to a relay service. And you wouldn’t know. Until you told me, I wouldn’t have known. It just feels very normal. So I think that’s great, really, the technology.
I’m really interested to know more about this particular quote that you have on your website, and it really intrigued me. Because you said, on your website:
And that kind of struck with me, because I can understand what you’re talking about. I can maybe relate, maybe subconsciously, now that I think about it, maybe certain thing has happened in my career before I started my business, that maybe I’ve had that same problem. But I don’t know. I can’t pinpoint it.
Can you give me, whatever you can share, can you give me some examples of what kind of experiences, what kind of moments that you have gone through that stopped you from getting to where you want to be in your career, whether there’s progression, whether, if you want to work with certain client of projects.
Can you give me some examples of those experiences that you have gone through?
Erin: Yeah. I mean, the biggest thing was … It’s sad, but my former boss was the one who basically said, “You will never be a manager. You are not good enough to be that person.”
And I felt like she always used my deafness against me. And when I walked out, it was just like … I don’t know if in the UK that you have the American Disability Act laws? I don’t know if there’s laws similar to that?
I always felt like, yeah, we have the ’88 law, but it’s still … I don’t want people to feel like they have to do it. And just being able to be like, “No, I want them to want to do it.”
And my biggest thing has always been my dad and my mom have always been like, “You can do whatever you want.”
But yes, so there’s going to be limitation.
I mean, when I was a kid, I wanted to be in the military. Lo and behold, when you find out, “Oh, you can’t be in the military,” I’m like, “Ugh.”
It’s interesting, because you realise that I have certain dreams and aspiration and I’m like, “Oh, I can’t do that. All right, then, well, let’s find something else that I still want to do.”
And I just feel like, because I was born deaf, it’s never really occurred to me that, “Oh, there are certain things that I couldn’t do.” And somebody asked me, “Well, what would you do if you had hearing?” And I’m like, “I don’t know,” because I don’t think that.
I can’t fathom being hearing at all, because I feel like this was something that I was meant to be, because of my being deaf. The choices my parents made to be sure that their kid was successful was something that puts me forth.
If we were born hearing, I feel like I would be on a completely different path.
And so, for me, that’s what’s been interesting as I get older is making those connections and realisations that this is where I’m supposed to be. And just being … It’s never really been a huge thing with me.
And, yeah, I am deaf, okay. But I do have advantage. I can talk. I can understand people for the most part. But it gets harder as I get older, because I keep losing my hearing.
So I have to be not afraid to ask for help. And that’s a bigger thing with being in the online industry is, I’ve realised, if you ask, people are much more like to be like, “What can we do? How can we figure this out?”
And that’s what I really appreciate about the online industry. It’s very different. People want to support one another.
Ahmed: And I agree. There’s something about the online industry, I don’t know how to explain it in detail, but it is something that is maybe easier for me to be in involved with in terms of having a business and having a career and all these things, because that is my background.
And the same thing with yourself as well.
But, for some reason, as soon as I started my business three years ago, it just felt right for me. And I didn’t have that feeling when I was working in offices and working in different agencies and different brands.
And I think I’ve done well in all of them, but something about online experience … I don’t know if you had that moment, that feeling, but online makes sense.
It really does. Like I feel so much happier. I feel like the people that … I mean, the people that I’ve connected with that I otherwise never would have, I feel like … You know how you’ve grown up.
You have your elementary school crowd. It’s small.
You go into middle school. That’s a little bigger.
High school, a little bigger.
College, it’s a pretty good size.
But then when you leave college, your audience actually gets smaller, because you’re likely not going to live where you went to school.
And so, when you get your job, I felt like, “Okay, my community is a good size.” But I did not realise how small it was until I left and went into the online industry.
And now my world feels like insanely huge. I’ve met people all over the world. Spain, UK, Australia, New Zealand. It’s amazing how much the people are and how we can relate to one another no matter what.
Like, there are moms with kids. I don’t have kids. I’m married, but I had a dog who is like my kid. It’s just been like … It felt right. It’s scary to do this on your own, but just the sheer kind of people that I’ve met in the online industry has been embracing, warm, supportive, and very much community over competition.
Unlike the corporate industry, which I felt like was very much like a ‘crab theory’, where you try to climb up and then somebody is always pulling you down.
And that, to me, is like … I was talking to my friend yesterday. I was like, “Basically, this all happened two years ago.” I was like, “I have a feeling I’m going to be getting laid off.”
I was in Thailand with my friend, and I was like, “Do you know what? Just go with it.”
Ahmed: And it’s so true. You have access to so many people. And that obviously gives us an opportunity, just like us two. We’re able to connect because of the online world, and you’re able to share experiences and talk about the challenges and talk about how we can overcome them.
And also just to provide support, as you say. Because not everyone will understand your situation, your challenges.
So I didn’t have that at all in the corporate world, where everyone I was working with were hearing, and nobody would understand why I get tired after a day because I have to focus on lip-reading and all these things. Nobody would understand that. But at least in the online world, it does make a lot of sense.
So that’s why I found it very interesting when I talk to different people from different backgrounds. I always want to know what … Not necessarily what they wish had happened differently, but what advice would you give to a person in that situation?
So my question to you in this situation would be, if you were an employee again, or if you know other people who are employee and they happen to be deaf, and they work in these environment that we used to work in, a corporate world, what advice or suggestion do you have for the company, the employees … Or the employers, actually.
What advice do you have for them to make sure that, first of all, the deaf employees are comfortable, and makes the most of our their talent and their skills? What advice do you have?
Erin: I would say, number one, it’s really important to connect with people, make sure that you’re connected with the right people. I’ve felt like I’ve struggled a lot with that, finding that connection with people to make sure I got what I needed. I was on my own.
And weirdly, in my company was very much diversity and inclusion, which I call bullshit on. But, I mean, that’s what they say. I feel like the diversity and inclusion really focuses on race, gender, sexual preferences stuff. But it never really focused on disability, and that stinks.
If you do have a disability of any kind, you need to find an advocate for you in whatever company, and you need to be an advocate for yourself. If someone says, “Well, do you?” “Yes, I do.” It doesn’t matter what kind of ability you might have.
Like, I can speak for myself.
But I need an interpreter as well. It doesn’t matter. Like, I’m advocating for myself, and I think that’s really important.
Be an advocate for yourself. If they don’t want to do it, then that’s not the place you need to be.
Ahmed: That makes sense, because I think I am guilty of not being vocal enough about what I need to make my job easier, and what they could’ve done for me, but how are they supposed to know? It’s up to me to be open about that.
And I have been guilty of that in the past, when I wanted to be quiet about it. I wanted to hide it. And I shouldn’t have done that.
But even, at the same time, as you say, the environment that, for me personally at work, what I was in, it didn’t feel right in terms of you’re able to open up about your disability, your whatever situation.
It didn’t feel like I was in the right environment or comfortable enough to be able to talk about that. Because it felt like, if I do talk about it, then maybe I’m wrong, but there could have been a repercussion, or there could have been a pushback to what you want.
And that’s the worry. And I’m sure you’ve had that as well. I’m sure a lot of people have had that. But that’s the worry, isn’t it?
Erin: Oh yeah. I totally felt that. I’m like, “Well, if I said something, I have this fear of repercussion,” completely. And I was just like, “Well, okay. I don’t want to mess with that.”
But now, I don’t worry about that. I have so many regrets that I wish I’d stood up for myself. I wish I was a better advocate for myself. But I wasn’t taught that. I was not told that, “You do have legal rights to do that.”
It’s weird, because my older sister, she’s also deaf. She’s much better of an advocate for herself. I always felt like, “Well, if I do that and let that thing…making people feel sorry for me.” I didn’t have this understanding of, “No, it’s not. You have the legal right to do this. It’s not because they have … No, it’s a legal right.”
And that’s one of my biggest regrets, is not really standing up for myself.
Ahmed: But that’s the problem, isn’t it? It’s what you said about you have the law in place, but you don’t want people to do it because they legally have to. You want them to do it because they want to do it. But it’s complicated, isn’t it
You can’t really get involved in the politics side of it and the legal side of it. That’s a whole other conversation.
But I agree with you all the way, and I wish I had been more open about it. But I think it’s experience in life. This is what we’ve learnt. Maybe we’ve learnt it the hard way.
But we’ve learnt through it, and we know what to do next time. And this is why I wanted to talk to you again, because we have to share that experience with other people, so that people can learn from our mistakes and they don’t have to go through that.
Because you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to have a career. It just works for us, but if you’re happy as an employee, that’s totally fine.
But it’s just about making sure that your environment is comfortable. It’s not just our responsibility as employee, but it’s also the responsibility of the employer as well. So I just hope that people get that message across.
But, if we are going to talk about being a deaf entrepreneur, I am very curious to know from your experience, when you started, what were your challenges, what were your fears?
Were there any moments in the beginning where there were setbacks just because you are deaf? Were there any moments that you hesitated and you had second thoughts about whether you should continue with your business?
Erin: My biggest challenge was actually when I worked with people that were based in … I can’t remember the name of the country, but it was like Russia. Wow. Like even the interpreter had a hard time understanding their accent. And their English is also not great.
So based in the U.S, but where they were from was from like Russia. And so, that was like my biggest struggle was understanding what they wanted me to do for them.
Like, I would do work, and sometimes it was like … Because English is not their first language, and so I would help them with that.
And that was like a huge … I’m like, “Am I doing the right thing?” It’s a struggle. But I felt like I got them to a place where I felt like they were confident enough, and we both parted ways.
But that was definitely a struggle, is like sometime when you work with people, it’s just like, “Am I doing the right thing? Are they the right fit for me? Does this honour my values? Does this honour their values?”
And my goal is to always help my clients scale. And if they scale, I scale, we both succeed.
I’m very much … I love my clients. I support them 150%. They’re the best. But there are definitely moments where I’m like, “Am I doing the right thing?” I mean, I’m just like, I’m winging it.
But I know right now definitely what I’m doing is the right thing for me. It feels good. And I am actually putting pause on my graphic design side of the business, because I want to do the behind the scenes for my clients.
So I really want to focus on the accessibility part right now. Not sure how that’s going to go, but I think it’s really important to do that.
Ahmed: It’s funny that you say that, because my background is optimization, search engine optimization. SEO, they call it. And that has been my background for over 10 years, but I have been focusing a lot nowadays, on top of it, with accessibility as well, especially deaf awareness.
So I can totally understand where you’re coming from.
And I can understand what you’re saying about the accents. So I should be very flattered that your interpreter can understand me better than the other countries.
So I’m going to take that as a win for me, because that was an issue in the past. So I’m very happy with that. Thank you for you, and thank you to your interpreter. I’m really pleased.
Erin: Yeah. I’m sure. They’re both right in getting you spot on, so you’re good.
Ahmed: Awesome. Awesome. I’m so happy that. So, then, obviously you said you have awesome clients, and without clients, our businesses would not exist.
What were their reaction, if there were any, when they realised that you are deaf at the later stage, and they didn’t know that in the beginning? Were there any negative attitude? Were there positive attitude?
I mean, how was it afterward, with your relationship with your clients, when they then realised that, “Oh, I’m going to have to work with a deaf person”?
Erin: For the client that was from Russia, I don’t think they necessarily fully understood it. I think it was just something that they’re like, “I don’t get it.”
But, for my other clients, most of them knew outright that I was deaf. It was never an issue, because we communicate via text, like Slack, email and stuff.
So one of my clients, we do video chat every week, and that’s been fine. I just use auto AI app to make sure I’m not missing any of what she said. But we also always reiterate with a to-do list to make sure I’m getting everything.
Most of them, they support me. They were scared because they were like, “You’re doing this accessibility thing, but please don’t leave me.”
I’m like, “I’m going to stay with you guys for at least another year, but I will figure out a game plan if I decide to go more into accessibility.”
But for now, it’s definitely 70% my clients, 30% on the accessibility thing, to figure out how I want to build this aspect of my business. So I have found that balance right now.
Ahmed: So it’s interesting that you said some of the tools that you use were Slack, email, obviously the video relay service with the Zoom call.
Are there anything else that you use, whether it’s technology or tools or you needed from your client, to make sure that the communication is smooth? Are there anything else that I’m missing?
Erin: I mean, really, the only … Like, Google. Everything Google. Gmail, Google Drive, that has been the epitome of our success, to be able to track everything through there.
I mean, that, to me … And did you know that Google Slides, if you do a presentation, it captions everything for you? Which is like super cool. I was like, “This is awesome!”
I like that. And sometimes I meet my clients one-on-one as well, in person. So it just depends. But the tech, Google has been awesome. I love my Gmail.
Ahmed: Very helpful. Again, we’re talking about the online world, how it’s an amazing place to be with the different people and community. But also the technology that are available, they do help a lot.
Now obviously, the auto-captions are not perfect. They’re not great. But the one that you describe on Google, or for, example, on Skype, now you can have the caption comes on automatically when you speak on Skype, and all these other things.
It’s not perfect. I get that. But it does help a lot to make the process a lot smoother.
And even for me, that’s why I go out of my way. For example, I have a microphone so that the audio quality is clear.
But I also have a way on the computer to make sure that the vocal aspect of the audio is boosted, so that I can have a little bit more bass in the audio of the vocal side, so that I can hear you better.
I have a quiet office. I have a quiet environment. It’s just about setting the right environment.
So, as well as the technology online, this is how I do it offline as well. And I think people don’t realise that when they hear me record a podcast, and they think that, “Oh, you sound fine. Oh, you don’t sound deaf.” That’s a classic one. “You don’t sound deaf.” It’s just, “Okay. I don’t know what that’s supposed to be like, but thank you.”
Erin: “Don’t sound deaf.” I mean, wow. I went through 12 years of speech therapy. But even though the transcript, the other AI app or [inaudible 00:28:22], they still, I feel like, for me, it does not translate my words correctly. Because there are certain letters I don’t get.
Like I can’t say … like all the accents. I don’t get … Just because it’s something that I can’t hear myself say, and so I can’t say it.
And so that has always been a struggle with me. It’s like I, one time, transcribed a whole 20 minute video of myself and it took me over three hours to edit it.
So that, I feel like, the transcripts, they still need a lot of work. A lot of them say, “Oh, it’s 97% accuracy.”
I would say like for someone who has perfect speech. That’s like one thing that I’m struggling with right now is I want to work with those companies to get them to better their technology.
I’m not a tech person at all in that aspect, but with so much technology now, why isn’t that technology better?
Ahmed: It’s interesting that you talked about when you’re trying to get someone to provide the transcript for your podcast or video, or the captions for your video, it seems like every single time I request that, there are always something on there which is, in bracket, inaudible. (like [inaudible])
And I thought that was me. I thought, “I’m always having that problem.” And I thought other people would have like 100% perfection. Because I had those speech therapy as well.
Not as long as you had, for 12 years, but I had that in school because, at that time, I was also learning English, so I had to do a lot of things.
But you’re right. It’s the pronunciation of certain words that the captions, whether it’s a technology or the human version, they’re not able to pick up everything.
And it is frustrating because then you have to spend extra time to fix it. And, as you say, over three hours for something that is 20 minutes, it’s so time-consuming.
But I agree. I think hopefully, in the long-term, the technology will get better in the auto-captions, but I don’t think it will ever be perfect.
Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I don’t think it will ever be perfect, because I think there are too many factors to take into consideration with, as you say, the certain sound of a letter or maybe your accent or all these things.
So, in a way, I am quite comforted that I’m not the only one who is having problem with their caption and their transcripts. So I’m relieved.
Erin: Yeah. I mean, but if you think about it, there’s accents. There’s dialects. Those technology is never going to be perfect, just because I say one thing one way, you might say it a completely different way.
How is the text-to-text going to get that? It’s never going to be perfect. That’s why I feel like they need to edit their text and talk to me.
Like I’ve done interviews with people who hosts online summits and they said transcripts are the bane of their existence, because they spend so much time editing them, because they are still not perfect.
Ahmed: I can understand that. I’ve seen it so many times, and I’ve organised events and I’ve done my own transcripts. And here’s what the problem is when you are a small business owner, you have to do everything by yourself.
And it’s challenging. It’s very, very challenging. And I think that’s something that we can all relate.
What about for those who in a similar situation as us? They are entrepreneurs themselves but they just happen to be deaf. Or maybe they are thinking about being an entrepreneur but they are a bit hesitant about it because they think that it’s going to be a lifetime of challenges.
What advice do you have for those people who are either deaf entrepreneurs or deaf would-be entrepreneurs? What advice do you have for them to, not just get started, but to push through, keep going and just to persevere as well?
Erin: Community. Community, I feel are super important. Most people don’t … Even if you’re doing your online business thing yourself, owning your own business, you spend a lot of time by yourself.
You really need that community. You need the people supporting you behind the scenes, whether it’s just your friends or other business owners as well. Community is so essential. Like finding that right group.
I spent the first year doing a lot of networking, and now I feel like I belong to three different groups that are right for me. And I’ve gone to way more than that.
But I would find those connections and I’m like, “Okay, this feels good to me. I know these people will support me, and I can come to them saying, ‘Hey, I have this problem. Can you help me think this through?'”
Community, I think, is so essential.
Ahmed: Do you think, then, do they have to be online or offline? Do you think you have a preference on which type of community?
Erin: I have both. I have some in person, and then I have a couple online, and it is … I like the online aspect, because it gets me out of the house at least a couple of times a month.
Because I’m always home by myself with my dog, who can be a brat sometimes. But I think you need both.
Ahmed: I agree with that. I think definitely being part of, again, online and offline community, that had been potentially the most important thing for my own business, is being around the right people.
It’s not just about having them as clients. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about having them as your support network, having them as your guide, as your accountability group as well, to make sure that you are doing what you’re supposed to do.
Because, as you say, when you are by yourself at home, it’s quite easy to be relaxed about your business and you don’t have that manager behind you, breathing over your neck and watching you.
And that’s the thing with having a small business, especially if you’re alone and you’re at home, it’s very easy to not push forward.
But with the right community, with the right accountability group, and if you keep in touch with them every week, every fortnight or every month, whatever it is, it is so, so important.
And it doesn’t have to be about your business. It could be about maybe you needed to offload about your life, or you need to offload issues that you’re having with your personal situation.
Because that will have a knock-on effect with your business as well.
So if you have that right support network, it can make such a big difference to your wellbeing, and to your business wellbeing. And I’m sure you can relate to that as well?
Erin: Oh yeah. Totally. One of my online, in-person groups has been much more about personal development. And that actually, that group actually helped me really come to terms with my identity of who I am, like why is my being deaf is a huge part of me.
For the longest time, it was always like, “It’s just a little part of me.” I was like, “Oh no.” Going through this process with the group really helped me go like, “Oh wow. This is a huge part of me.”
And then the other group that I meet in person is definitely about business. It’s about me growing. Like what’s my next business step? Making sure you hit your goal.
And then the online is like similar but it’s different, because they’re there all the time. It’s definitely finding that balance, and I think it’s completely separate from your friends.
So my friends, they don’t get it. They really don’t get it. Like they say to you, but I’m like, “You don’t get it.” And it’s fine, because they still support me. But it’s not something that I feel like I can talk to them about.
Ahmed: I totally agree. I can’t talk to my close friends, and, to an extent, my family, about certain business dilemma. No. They would not understand it.
And they can give advice and they come from a good place. They want to help. And I’m sure they want to do that. But it’s different when you talk about it with a person who is living that lifestyle as well.
So it’s about having the right people around you, and the people who can help you to move forward with your business and personal development. That makes a lot of sense.
Do you think, though, does it have to be a deaf person? Does it have to be a community of deaf people, or do you have a mix, or do you have a preference?
What’s your experience like when you have that community around you?
Erin: I think it just depends on the personality, for me. I’m not connected to the deaf community like that. I have a couple of deaf friends that do understand the business aspect of it.
But I don’t feel like I’ve really connected with people in the deaf community, because most of them, when they do create their businesses, it’s more about doing for the deaf community.
And, for me, I feel like my world is so much bigger if I go outside of that. And I want to encourage people in the deaf community that you don’t have to be restricted to just the deaf community.
Because I feel like there’s so much more opportunity in the hearing world. And the people that I’ve met are amazing as well, and I really want to bridge that gap between the two worlds.
And that’s like my ultimate goal is, I feel like there’s so much more knowledge, especially in the podcast industry. There’s so much knowledge out there that I feel like we are missing out on because we don’t have access to that.
And I think a lot of us could benefit from it as well.
Ahmed: And it’s so interesting that you’ve mentioned, first of all, two things. You talked about the Deaf community working with other deaf people in the community, and it’s only recently I’ve heard the term of “deaf ecosystem”.
And it’s about making sure that everybody in the…how they work together. And I can see the benefit of that. It’s about supporting each other, again, and it’s about making sure that everyone has a fair chance of having a successful business. I totally get that, and I think it does make sense.
On the other hand, I do agree with you because that’s something that I emphasise a lot on my own website, which is what you said about bridging the gap between the two worlds.
And that’s what I want to do as well, and I think there is a lot to learn from both worlds. Whether it’s the deaf world or the hearing worlds, there are knowledge that we can all benefit from, and we don’t have to be separated at all.
And I think a lot of people, in my experience, agree with that, but there are minorities who don’t agree with that. They think they should be separate. I disagree. I think there should be a connection.
It doesn’t have to be 100% that you have to be in one world or the other. We have that advantage, I feel, for the both of us, that if we are in that middle group, in the bit where I thought … in the beginning, I thought it’s a very lonely world. I thought it’s a very quiet world. I thought it’s very hard to fit in the right place.
But then, on the other hand, the good thing about being in the middle is that you are that bridge, and we have that connection to both side of the world, and I can see good things about that.
Because as you say, we have so much to share. You said it perfectly. I think it makes a lot of sense what you said, and I hope people can appreciate that, because I know there are people who don’t agree with that as well.
Erin: Yeah. No, there are going to be people that disagree with us, and that’s totally fine. I mean, we’re never going to make everyone happy. I know that has always been a struggle for me in the past was that I wasn’t deaf enough, or I’m not hearing enough.
And I think that’s where this comes into play is where I’m like, “I don’t care.” I’m at the age of where I’m past caring. I’m not hearing enough, I’m not deaf enough? All right, so I’m going to be the middle person. Who else is going to do that?
And that’s what I figure now is I stopped caring so much. I do still care, but I want them to see that I want us to succeed. It doesn’t matter whether we’re deaf, whether we’re hearing.
But why can’t we be part of both worlds? Because the fact is some hearing world is so much bigger. But, I don’t know if you heard the statistic before that in, I think, 2025, which is only five years from now, that basically two in every 10 people will have a hearing loss.
Ahmed: Wasn’t that by the World Health Organisation, I think someone said that? And I have heard that from somewhere.
Erin: But I think about it. If there’s like 10 people. We all know 10 people. Two of those people will have that hearing loss. That’s super high. It’s because the world is so noisy. People are not protecting their hearing, so there’s going to be a need for that kind of accessibility.
Ahmed: It makes sense, doesn’t it? It makes a lot of sense. And it’s such a coincidence that you talked about not deaf enough or not hearing enough, because, at the time of recording, last week, I have published a video about that.
It’s about not being deaf enough or hearing enough, and the annoying thing about being there.
So it’s just a complicated situation to be in, and I used to hate that, because you don’t have that identity. But now I’m trying to embrace that, that being in the middle is not always a bad thing. You have that connection. You have that bridge.
And there are benefits that can come with that. And I think we both can look at that in a really positive way. So, thankfully, I have someone like yourself to feel like, “Yes, someone agrees with me” as well.
Erin: Yeah. I mean, same here. And it’s nice to meet someone that’s in the online industry as well, that feels the same, “Well, why not bridge the gap?” So it’s always nice to find people that, “Oh my God, we can relate.” I think that’s what everybody really wants in their life, if you have at least one other person that gets it.
Ahmed: That makes a lot of sense. And I think this is the perfect way to round it up, because we can go on for another hour or maybe five hours, if we’re not careful.
So I think here’s a good way to round it up and talk about, yes, there are so many positive things to talk about. There are challenges of being a deaf entrepreneur, but there are some amazing things about being a deaf entrepreneur as well.
I am so appreciative that I got to talk to you, to get to understand you better, and from your background. And it’s been totally awesome.
And, if people want to find you and connect with you online, where is the best place for them to do that?
Erin: I would say Instagram is the best way to connect with me, @Mabely_Q, and you can find me there. Send me a message, DM, or just comment on my posts.
I will be talking more about my experiences and what people can do to do accessibility in the coming week, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Ahmed: Perfect. And I’ll make sure that I will link to that as well so people can find you, because people need to do that. I think people need to do that, just to find you and connect with you. It’s totally awesome. But yeah, thank you for your time, and I appreciate it. Thank you.
Erin: All right. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it as well.
Ahmed: Thank you, Erin, again, for being on our podcast. And I hope you also enjoyed listening or reading the podcast interview as well.
And if you have, I’d really appreciate it if you can go on your podcast platform that you’re using and leave a review on what you think about this podcast in general. I would love to know what you think.
In the meantime, I will speak to you again soon.
- What is ‘audism’? Plus my personal experiences of facing audism - October 27, 2021
- ‘CODA’ movie review: my thoughts on the latest deaf movie to be released - October 13, 2021
- Deafness as a ‘hidden/invisible disability’ - October 6, 2021
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