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Derrick Coleman: Hearing Aids and the Super Bowl

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Even if you watched the Seattle Seahawks score a victory in last night’s Super Bowl game, you may not know that they have a fullback who wears hearing aids — yes, hearing aids.

We only ever hear of a hearing impaired athlete if the athlete is in the Deaflympics, or even in the general Olympics. But Derrick Coleman, who is the NFL’s first deaf offensive player, is out to prove that he can be a star player despite his circumstances — and still charm the hearts of hearing impaired children across America.

Unfortunately, Coleman’s hearing, even with hearing aids, still isn’t top-notch. “I always use a scale from zero to 10, zero being completely deaf and 10 being perfect hearing. About eight, nine, 10 is everybody else – normal hearing. Without my hearing aid, I’m probably about a two. With my hearing aid, I’m probably about six, seven, eight, depending on the day,” Coleman told NBC sports reporters.

Even then, Coleman reportedly never uses his impaired hearing as an excuse for his performance out on the field. Sound like a perfect role model for the hearing impaired community? Definitely.

Lately, Coleman has made headlines for his acts of kindness toward children and teenagers with hearing aids or hearing disabilities. On Jan. 23 this year, CBS reported that Coleman wrote to two 9-year-old twin girls from New Jersey, both of who have worn hearing aids since they were babies — Riley and Erin Kovalcik. And it was all because Riley had written Coleman a letter initially, which her father posted on Twitter. In his letter Coleman wrote, “Even though we wear hearing aids, we can still accomplish our goals and dreams.”

Even more recently, Coleman surprised another little kid — Jack Coleman (not related). In an attempt to find Jack a No. 40 Seahawks jersey (Coleman’s jersey), which had been increasingly hard to find, Jack’s mother reached out to the Seahawks, and then Coleman’s agent began to work with Modell’s to make a surprise for Jack. Two days before the Super Bowl this year Jack came face-to-face with Coleman at Times Square Modell’s, who not only signed the jersey but also gave Jack a signed football.

Most of his life, Jack had been a Giants fan — that is, until he saw Coleman star in this following Duracell commercial:

Jack, who has been hearing impaired since the age of 9 months, was deeply inspired by the commercial and since then, he has been a Seahawks and a Coleman fan. If there’s any proof that role models like Coleman can slowly change the stigmatization of hearing aids or the mentality toward the hearing impaired, this is it.

by Andrea Garcia Vargas

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