Hearing Loss Affects More Than Your Ears
Did you know there’s a high prevalence of hearing loss in the Hispanic and Latino population in the U.S.? Untreated hearing loss is linked to decreased cognitive function in this same population, so breaking down barriers to seeking treatment is crucial. And a good place to start is inspiring stories.
To mark National Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S., which begins in September, and Latin American Heritage Month in Canada, which is in October, let’s look at some important Hispanics and Latinos with hearing loss.
Musical director of Hamilton, In the Heights, and Wicked
This Cuban American musical natural began studying classical piano at the age of 4 — around the same time his family started speculating that he had hearing loss. At age 13, he performed at the largest concert hall in Mérida, at the Autonomous University of Yucatán in Mexico. By the time he was in high school, he had hearing aids but wouldn’t wear them (he eventually came around). The Berklee College of Music graduate would go on to earn Kennedy Center Honors and win multiple Tonys, several Grammys, and other notable awards.Francisco Goya
Influential painter and printmaker
Goya is considered the most influential Spanish artist of the late 1700s and early 1800s. His body of work reflects the shift to a more modern approach in art. In fact, he paved the way for the likes of Édouard Manet and Pablo Picasso. It was in 1792 or 1793, during his time as a court painter in the royal household, that he suffered an undiagnosed illness that left him permanently deaf. Within a few years, he would assume the title of first court painter under King Charles IV in 1799.
Wildly popular singer and performer
Luis Miguel, a Puerto Rican-born Mexican singer who is often called El Sol de México, is widely considered the most successful musical artist in Latin American history. He’s the only Latin-music singer of his generation who did not become a crossover sensation for English-speaking audiences in the 1990s. Decades of performing took its toll, and he now experiences tinnitus, a condition in which a ringing, buzzing, pulsing, or other noise is heard with no external source.
Professional volleyball player
Brazilian Natália Martins was only 6 years old when she was first fitted with hearing aids to correct her 70% hearing loss. Now, 30 years later, she is Brazil’s first-ever volleyball player with hearing loss to play professionally or to make it on her country’s national team. She played on several leading Brazilian teams before recently deciding to join a premier league in Romania. She is a brand ambassador for Sonova, which in 2020 released a short film about her life.
Actor, mentor, and consultant
This Puerto Rican American actor was born profoundly deaf. Right after graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology, she headed to Hollywood and, within six months, had landed a recurring role as Natalie Pierce on the TV show Switched at Birth and a role on one episode of Grimm. Since then, acting has kept her busy. She also teaches American Sign Language (ASL), mentors families of deaf children in Los Angeles County, and serves as a consultant and ASL coach for TV and film.
Dr. Robert Davila
Former Gallaudet University president (2007–2009)
As a young boy, Robert Davila, who was born in California to Mexican-American parents, had a sporadic education, as his family moved with the seasons. When he was 8, however, a severe case of spinal meningitis left him deaf, and he was sent north to the California School for the Deaf (CSD), where he thrived. He learned both English and ASL, graduated with honors, and went on to earn bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. He became president of Gallaudet University, a premier university for the deaf and hard of hearing, after a lifetime of education in both teaching and administration.
Feeling inspired to take that first step to better hearing? Contact us today!