When Derrick Coleman, the first legally deaf offensive player in the NFL, takes the field on Super Bowl Sunday, he will set another first, as the only deaf player to play in the big game. Coleman will be cheered, not only by Seattle Seahawks fans, but also by those whose lives have been affected by hearing loss. HearingLikeMe, an online community sponsored by Phonak, a global leader in hearing technology, is featuring the player in a new inspirational video. HearingLikeMe is also asking fans to “cheer on” Coleman by posting words of encouragement for him at: www.HearingLikeMe.com.
Coleman lost his hearing at the age of 3 and wants to share his story and his personal slogan “NO EXCUSES” with the HearingLikeMe community because of his experiences with hearing loss and competitive sports. (One area where children with hearing loss feel challenged is in this environment.) A combination of ineffective coaching, insecurities, and/or overprotective parents can play a role in a child’s belief in their own capabilities when it comes to sports or other extracurricular activities that are supposed to boost a child’s confidence and help the growth process.
Coleman’s slogan, “NO EXCUSES,” and his personal story have been incredibly positive for the hearing loss/hard of hearing community. An estimated 2-3 of every 1,000 children experience hearing loss—and that number jumps to an estimated 30 out of every 1,000 children in school.
“No child, no matter what challenges they may face, should feel alone,” says Coleman. “I want kids to know I understand what they are going through. I want their parents to see their son or daughter can go just as far as other children—and if they are a young athlete, I want them to see they can take a shot at their dream.”
In the short profile video filmed in December at the Virginia Mason Athletic Facility, Coleman talks about what it’s like being a fullback/running back and special teams ace for the Seattle Seahawks. He recalls his “heads-up play” for his first NFL touchdown and the “NO EXCUSES” approach his parents took with him. Coleman addresses tough times that tested his own sense of perseverance. Teased by other children and faced with a communication barrier on and off the field, he never gave up. Through the use of hearing aids and by learning to read lips, Coleman went on to gain a scholarship and graduate from UCLA, make an NFL 53 man roster, and, all the while, take time to share his story with others.
Coleman is just one of many inspiring stories told by HearingLikeMe, an online community for people whose lives have been touched by hearing loss. The site’s videos and articles provide both education and inspiration, while the forums offer a place for people to connect. At HearingLikeMe.com, you’ll meet children and adults with hearing loss, as well as the parents, partners, and hearing professionals who care for them. Explore workplace issues, compare notes on dating and marriage, and discover how other parents navigated life after a hearing loss diagnosis. The site is rich, meaningful, and designed to inspire.
 Hearing Loss Association of America
For more on Derrick Coleman, read this