Sept 2018 Independent online
DURBAN-BORN Andre Chetty may have been born deaf, but that never stopped him from reaching his true potential and now, at 33, he is one of the finalists for Mr Deaf SA 2018.
His mother, Sungeetha, a school teacher from Durban, contracted German measles when she was three months pregnant with Chetty. He had 85% hearing loss in his left ear and was profoundly deaf in his right ear. Chetty had his first hearing aids fitted at 6 months old.
Having attended VN Naik School for the Deaf from the age of 3, he excelled in the academic field, winning several inter-school Maths Olympiads, and earning four distinctions in matric.“I used to lip read well and my family attended sign language classes so they were able to communicate well with me. I also went for professional speech therapy from a very young age which helped me to communicate better with my siblings and parents. My family included me in all activities and never treated me as ‘abnormal’. That made me confident and brave and motivated me to be the best that I could be.”
The pageant aims to develop South Africa’s deaf society through the medium of the beauty and entertainment industry by enhancing self-discipline, confidence and presenting opportunities to empower people. “This competition proves that deaf people also have modelling skills and it encourages young deaf children to be confident, fun, independent, friendly and loving. Mr Deaf finalists act as role models to other deaf children,” he said. He added the stigma attached to being deaf needed to end. “Deaf people are not stupid or silly. They are normal people who are just unable to hear.”