Shelley Buckle was recently crowned Miss Deaf SA, and while she’s still getting used to the idea of carrying a title such as this, she hopes to use this platform as a means to inspire young South African women. We spoke to the talented, 21-year-old Durbanite to find out more about her journey so far.
GLAMOUR: We know you’re a Durban girl, but could you tell us a little more about your background and your childhood?
Shelley Buckle: I was born deaf because of a virus my mother got while she was pregnant with me – the virus left me with no hearing in my left ear and about 40% hearing in my right. My parents only found this out when I was 2 years old when they noticed I was not responding to sounds. They fitted me with a hearing aid in my right ear and my mother dedicated all her time to teaching me how to speak before I went to pre-school.
My parents made the decision to sending me to a hearing school. It was hard at times… Often missing out on what my teacher said in class, or even being left out of group discussions because of my inability to follow those conversations.
I passed Matric with the results I wanted, with great help and support from family and friends. I then went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts Degree which I finished last year! I then landed my first job at a radio company doing all their internal design work and creating design elements for their website.
GLAMOUR: What made you decide to enter Miss Deaf SA?
SB: I’ve always wanted to be an inspiration to others to show them that a disability doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your dreams. I wanted to use my title to make a difference in the country!
GLAMOUR: What do you think is the value of pageants – and of Miss Deaf SA in particular?
SB: I think pageants are a great way to showcase your talent to the public. Many pageant winners are involved with community projects and also become motivational speakers.
In the case of Miss Deaf SA, it’s a platform to be of an inspiration to others. Using your deafness, you can show everyone that nothing will ever stand in your way!
GLAMOUR: What sets you apart from the other contestants and allowed you to win Miss Deaf SA?
SB: I think that staying true to myself and just being friendly to everyone allowed me to win Miss Deaf SA. I didn’t try to be someone I wasn’t, and I worked hard to prove myself in all the challenges and activities during the pageant.
GLAMOUR: How do you hope to close the gap between the deaf community and the hearing community?
SB: I close the gap by being actively involved with hosting sign language workshops for the hearing to learn. Through these workshops, I only aim to create Deaf awareness and to encourage the public to learn the language. Many hearing people do not realise the challenges deaf people face on a daily basis. The more people we can get to learn Sign Language, the more we can make it easy for everyone to communicate with each other!
GLAMOUR: What’s the one thing that you wish everyone knew about meeting and interacting with deaf people?
SB: I wish that people would know that deaf people are just as normal as them, only with the exception of not being able to hear well.
GLAMOUR: Where do you find your inspiration?
SB: Lance Armstrong is my inspiration as he overcame his obstacle of cancer and carried on with his passion for cycling.
GLAMOUR: How do you hope to inspire other girls with hearing impairments?
SB: I want to show them that they can still achieve their dreams, no matter how big and wild they might be!
GLAMOUR: What’s your message to anyone who’s struggling to overcome a personal obstacle?
SB: Never think that you’re alone, and always ask a close friend or family member to help you overcome it. Stay strong and never believe that you’re inadequate!