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Jazzy's YouTube vlogging

Photo: Read Jazzy's story

Jazzy (18) who is profoundly deaf and uses British Sign Language (BSL) has become a successful YouTube vlogger. She tells us about growing up deaf and how she wants to achieve a million YouTube subscribers.

“Jazzy was always such a natural signer. From six weeks of us teaching her, she was using her first signs,” remembers mum Mel. “When we found out about Jazzy’s deafness, we were lucky to have a sign language tutor come and teach us baby signs. I then went to college for two years to learn BSL up to Level 2.

"After six months Jazzy was signing away, there were no communication problems, so we decided against her having an implant at that time. She was so happy and healthy and, back then especially, it was a big old operation.”

Jazzy was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at 10 months old which was a big shock to her parents. “I was really upset, scared and overwhelmed. It was a world I knew nothing about. Suddenly there was a Teacher of the Deaf, speech and language therapist and sign language teacher coming round. I felt like everyone had taken over and Jazzy wasn’t my own anymore,” says Mel.

Aged eight, Jazzy decided she wanted a cochlear implant. “My hearing aids weren’t working, so I thought that with an implant I’d hear more, which would support me with lip-reading and new sounds,” says Jazzy.

“Now I don’t wear it every day; it depends on my mood. I’m definitely glad I had it, but I like hearing nothing sometimes; it’s peaceful.”

"She comes across as so positive and she’s just got something about her." 

Jazzy has a large family with a sister, stepbrothers and stepsisters and believes her close relationships with them are due to them all learning BSL to different levels.

“I really appreciate them learning it for me. It’s had a really big impact as it’s so much easier to communicate. I can talk about anything with my family; I’m really lucky,” she says.

She also has a lot of deaf friends from school and local deaf groups, but her best friend is hearing. “We met at primary school and have grown up together. She learnt sign language too,” says Jazzy.

“I’ve had hearing friends at college when it’s been difficult to communicate so I’ve taught them a few signs or we’ve written notes or used our phones to communicate.”

Jazzy attended mainstream primary and secondary schools and then a college, all with deaf units, and had support from a communication support worker (CSW). “I remember starting primary school and meeting new deaf friends. There also was a deaf club – that was really exciting. It made me realise that I wasn’t the only deaf person,” recalls Jazzy.

“I have lots of good memories of growing up, but there were tough times too at secondary school. Communication was always the biggest issue, with only a few deaf students compared to hundreds of hearing ones.”

Her love of vlogging began two years ago when she discovered YouTube. “I love talking about things that are beautiful and about deaf issues and that was the perfect place,” she beams. “I also wanted to prove to everyone that deaf people can do anything.”

Jazzy films videos in her bedroom and edits them herself, usually on her favourite topics of beauty and deafness. She now has over 2,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, both hearing and deaf.

“YouTube makes me feel really good. I like linking with and talking to new people,” she says. “I’ve had some great feedback.”

“I’m most proud of the video I made for Deaf Awareness Week last year. My stepmum works at a school and asked me to make the video to show to the deaf children, but I also put it on YouTube and it got 25,332 views. I wasn’t expecting it to have that many. I realised there was potential to raise more deaf awareness.”

"In the future I really want to achieve a million YouTube subscribers. It’s my big dream."

“I think Jazzy’s vlogging is brilliant – it gives her so much confidence. She comes across as so positive and she’s just got something about her,” says Mel. “When she was in primary school she had a list of who would sit next to her each day because she was so popular!”

Mel has always encouraged Jazzy to be confident about her deafness and put herself forward. “When she was little, if she wanted a drink when out at a play scheme or park, I’d give her the money to get it and she’d say, “But I’m deaf, they won’t understand me,” and I’d say it doesn’t matter, go and point to it. She usually got what she wanted.

"I’ve always told her being deaf doesn’t matter, you can do whatever you want to do, exactly the same as a hearing child. You’ve got to try and push deaf children rather than hold them back,” she says.

“I spent Jazzy’s younger years worrying about the next step of everything, but if I’d known then what I know now I would’ve been a lot more relaxed about the whole thing.”

Jazzy, who is also learning to drive, has just finished a college course in media and make-up and now has big plans for her future. “I’m really focusing on my YouTube now. I’ll maybe get a part-time job too, but I’m making more videos.

In the future I really want to achieve a million YouTube subscribers. It’s my big dream. No one on YouTube who’s deaf has that many, so being the first would be the best thing ever!” she says.

“I also want to travel the world and see different cultures and get all these new experiences. But really the future is about YouTube, that’s what’s in my heart. That’s a passion.”