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Hearing management

Updated 29 November 2017

Former Miss Deaf SA to take centre stage in Cape Town ballet

Former Miss Deaf South Africa Simoné Botha is this year's Casual Day ambassador for Cape Town and her message to handicapped people is: "If something grabs you, go for it."

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Former Miss Deaf South Africa and professional ballerina, Simoné Botha (25) is set to take centre stage, performing the lead role in Spartacus of Africa, ballet that will première at the Artscape this Saturday, the 27th of June.

'I don't hear the rhythm' 

When Simoné dances in the spotlight, she will be unable to hear the music as well as the audience watching her.

To help her, two of the dancers in the corps will stand on either side of the stage and perform the hand movements of the female lead Phrygia’s solos along with her.  “I will watch them from the corner of my eye to make sure I keep up,” says Botha who was born deaf.  

At 22 months old, Simoné was the youngest baby in Africa to receive cochlear implants, allowing her to faintly hear the music she has to dance to.

“I can, however, for example not distinguish between the different instruments being played. I cannot hear if it is a violin or a piano. I also don’t hear the rhythm. I need to count in my head to keep in step.” 

She’s wearing a light-green leotard and a pair of dark-blue tracksuit pants outside one of the rehearsal rooms of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) dance school.    

 

Read: Cochlear implants aid adults with hearing loss

simone botha

Beauty queen and ballerina Simoné Botha was crowned Miss Deaf South Africa in 2012

Her feet started itching

Her hair is in a tight plait, squeezed into a bun behind her head, and her hearing aid is clearly visible. She speaks without any trouble with just a trace of a lisp and the occasional “brei” that slips through.  

When, as a toddler, she watched her older sister Elnette dancing in a tutu in ballet class, her feet started itching to get into ballet shoes.

Elnette was also born deaf.   “I couldn’t really hear the music, but I turned towards the mirror and did the hand movements with the class.

“Then, at the tender age of two, the teacher allowed me to dance along with the others in the back row.”

Read: Types of hearing aid

Don't feel sorry for yourself 

“Deaf, and wanting to dance for a living? No, rather go for something else,” she was told over and over as a teenager. 

“In some of my dancing examinations, some of the examiner actually gave me poor scores to discourage me from becoming a professional dancer. They thought I wouldn’t be able to handle it.” 

But giving up was not an option for this resourceful girl.

And this is her message on this year’s Casual Day on 4 September. She is also this year’s Cape Town Casual Day ambassador.      

“I don’t only want to tell people about other people with handicaps. I want to say to the handicapped: “There’s no reason feel sorry for yourself and complain about your fate. If something grabs you, go for it."

Read more:

Deaf and drop-dead gorgeous

The end of deafness?

Children: common causes of deafness

 

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Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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