Britain's Missing Top Model
A young disabled woman from Leicester discovers what it takes to be a model through a television reality show. BBC Leicester's Tony Wadsworth speaks to Kellie Moody about living with a disability. Listen to the interview...
'Britain's Missing Top Model' is currently showing on BBC Three. It features eight beautiful girls with a disability who are desperate to become models.
They are battling it out to win the prize of a fashion shoot in a top style magazine. The show is also highlighting the discrimination that those with disabilities face.
One of the girls taking part is Kellie Moody from Leicester. She has been deaf since birth.
Listen: Britain's Missing Top Model
It is of course almost impossible to begin to imagine what it must be like to be deaf so what is life like for Kellie?
BBC Leicester's Tony Wadsworth spoke to Kellie through her interpreter. His questions were signed by Emma Stones and it's her voice you'll predominantly hear as Kellie responds...
"It's really, really difficult for myself just because I am deaf. It affects my English, I have communication problems sometimes and my speech is not perfect.
"But I won't let anything affect me in my life, I just carry on... That's why my mum has allowed me to grow up in the real world not like other deaf children, who have been to a special school for deaf people.
"They have had specialist support like speech therapy and sign language. But for myself I was involved in the hearing world, so I have grown up facing the hearing world and that's why I'm a strong person now."
The School Years
Kellie said that it was difficult for her when she was at school, because the other children saw her as different and the teachers were not always aware what she, as a deaf pupil needed.
"I requested special help to help me write in English, to do my homework and other things to make it easier for me to understand.
"I was bullied at the school I attended, because I was different - I was deaf. But sometimes it was very good. I was good at art and other subject.
"Sometimes I felt shy because I'm deaf and I'm still good at things too."
Kellie is a determined and successful young woman. But what is her motivation?
"When I was little I went through tough and difficult times - I had a hard life. My mum was a single parent. She had to look after me and my other sister, who is also deaf. We both went through bullying at school.
"I looked up to my sister and wanted to do what other hearing people did. They can do it so why can't I... Why not!
"I might be deaf, but that doesn't stop me from doing things... From doing what I want."
The Hearing World
Kellie talks about how she sometimes feels patronised by the hearing world.
"There was a time when a went on holiday and at the airport a person, who was working there, was trying to say something to me and I said, 'I'm so sorry, I'm deaf, I can't quite understand.'
"They were shocked, they said 'no, no', they didn't believe me when I said I was deaf because of the way I looked and the way I acted. Because it's not a physical disability they didn't actually believe that I was deaf.
"So I had to show them my hearing aid and again they were really shocked. They kept apologising... I said 'it's OK, it's fine!'"
Kellie doesn't let her deafness affect her social life. She enjoys going out with her friends and loves going clubbing and dancing.
"One time when I went to the toilet, I was with a friend who was also deaf and another who was using sign language, and a girl we meet said that I was brave.
"I said, 'why is that? Why I'm I brave?' She said, 'because you go out, because your dancing' and I said, 'I love dancing and love going out just like any other hearing person.'"
How common is it for deaf people get these reactions from hearing people?
Catherine White from 'Action Deafness' spoke to Tony about her own experiences as well as what Kellie has experienced.
"Pretty much of what Kellie has said is what most deaf people would say.
"I grew up with 14 deaf people in my family. I think the difference between Kellie and my family is that because there were so many of them they counterbalanced their own experiences.
"So everytime something negative was said, it was counterbalanced with something positive. And Kellie has been talking about some of the positive experiences as well.
"So despite all the negative perceptions and myths out there about deafness, there is equality a very strong deaf community - Kellie spoke about going out with her deaf friends and going clubbing.
"They do everything that anyone else can do - the only difference is that they can't hear.
"It doesn't prejudge their abilities, their competence, their intelligence - it's all there, but it's just that they do have a different way of communicating and they do have to deal with different issues."
Catherine feels that there's a mixed approach to deaf people and a positive difference is being made. Action Deafness has received a number of requests from schools from hearing children who want to learn how to sign language.
Kellie thinks that teaching hearing children basic sign language could have made her life easier when she was at school.
'Action Deafness' is holding a special fund-raising fashion show involving Leicester Tigers and Leicestershire cricketers at Welford Road on 20 November 2008.
For more details visit the website actiondeafness.org.uk or phone 0116 257 4800.
Kellie is hoping that people will change not only towards deafness, but towards other disabilities as well.
She would like people in various public services, like in schools and in surgeries to be more aware and open-minded with the disabilities people have.
Kellie thinks that if attitudes towards peoples disabilities change then it will give disabled men, women and children the confidence to go out more.
You can see Kellie Moody on Tuesday nights at nine o'clock on BBC Three.
last updated: 09/07/2008 at 16:09