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Hard of Hearing Community Members: Maclain Drake

Why get to know other people in the hearing loss community? Because they provide valuable resources and inspire us. Spreading hearing loss awareness is going to take a lot of us working together and as individuals. Connections in the community provide more resources.

Maclain Drake lives in Utah and is a favorite in the hearing loss community. He has so much energy! He’s an actor and a DJ. As the owner of Vibe Music Events, he makes music accessible to those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HoH). His energy is infectious and he is always asking us what he can do to help further HoH awareness. Wherever he goes, he asks what is available for people with hearing loss, and educates venues on our communication needs.

Maclain inspires many of us here, so we thought we’d introduce him to all of you.

Chelle and Maclain on a recent tour of Access Simplified.
Chelle and Maclain at the 2019 HLAA Salt Lake City chapter Christmas party.
Passion for Awareness

Chelle: Maclain and I hit it off right away. We both have the HoH at heart and want to further awareness. I love his enthusiasm for accessibility! He’s willing to help anyone make events work for the Hard of Hearing, Deaf, Deafblind, and more. He wants everyone to feel included, and no matter the disability, he will advocate for it. His vision is that we can all have fun together. 

He loves his music and we share some of the same tastes in music. We both like electronica. He found out I went to Burning Man for several years and his mind was blown. He decided I’m not the typical old person (he said that out loud at an event once.) I love to feel music. Typically I go right up in front to get close to the big speakers for the full effect of music.

Maclain Drake (front) standing on a vibrating platform that enables people with hearing loss to feel music in detail. Photo Credit: Randy Harward, Salt Lake City Weekly

Salt Lake City Weekly: Can You Feel It? Vibe makes music accessible to the deaf community. By Randy Harward

Maclain brought his vibrating dance platform with a hearing loop to the Sanderson Community Center several times. It’s a great experience going into the telecoil program…and feel the vibration. There’s no comparison. 

Team Effort

He is the eternal joker but he’s serious about advocacy. Accessibility at events is important to him. He knows how to work his way through management and get to the core. He did that with theaters in Utah. They now have a lot of options for us; neckloops, caption devices, and open caption showings. It takes many of us working together. He only asks that we request accommodations everytime we go somewhere. “It’s a two way street,” he says. “It can’t always be me going to them to say ‘we need to make this happen’. If people aren’t showing up or asking for it themselves it’s pointless.” He doesn’t mind leading but it has to be a team effort

Maclain wants to make concerts more accessible with the platform, hearing loops, and the Listen Everywhere assistive listening system. However, he has a hard time getting the HoH community to show up. He’s willing, he has the means, but we need to show up to make it count. 

When recording the podcast with him, Maclain asked to meet earlier than scheduled. He was asked to participate on a health committee with his city council representing the HoH. No problem! He has endless energy to advocate.

Equal Access

Julia: I met Maclain through events held at the Sanderson Center here in Salt Lake. This is a young, charismatic person who is not apologetic about his hearing loss. Who expects to be included in whatever event he is attending. When I say included, I am talking about communication access. He is a role model for the HoH to take what is rightfully theirs. Equal access to spoken language. 

He attends the local Advisory Board to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing here in Salt Lake. At every meeting asks what the community needs help with? What can he do to help educate businesses and venues with respect to equal access?

He regularly attends the Friday morning Coffee Chat, hosted by the Utah Division of Services of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He asks the local community how he can help them understand accommodations for those with a hearing loss.

Opportunities to Educate

When it comes to equal access to communication, he works with his local government. Maclain works with local tech companies and local movie theater companies. He works with national hearing aid companies and with national music arenas. He also acts in movies. This is a guy who lives his life to the fullest. He never misses an opportunity to educate others on how to provide equal access to communication for someone with a hearing loss.

We need more Maclains out there. More people raising the standards and helping the HoH to take what is rightfully theirs—equal access to spoken language.

Vibe Music Events

Michele: I first heard about Maclain and Vibe Music Events from Chelle in 2017. As someone who has never found benefit with hearing aids, I’ve been intrigued by haptic technology. (It allows the brain to access sound information through vibration/touch.) I first heard about it from David Eagleman’s TED Talk, Can we create new senses for humans?. Most of you are probably familiar with haptic music accessibility from Mandy Harvey’s story.

Not long after hearing about Maclain from Chelle, I met him in person at a HLAA Salt Lake City chapter meeting. Later I attended his educational workshop, Can You Feel That?, at the 2018 HLAA convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Like everyone, I love Maclain’s sense of humor and fun, but the best thing about him is that he makes being young with hearing loss look like the most natural thing in the world. And it is normal for a lot of us that grow up with hearing loss.

Obstacles with Hearing Loss

Overcoming obstacles is a message that young people, and everyone, with hearing loss needs to hear. It is one that Maclain shares at every opportunity. He is a role model to many, embracing technology and making the world more inclusive for all people with sensory loss.

He doesn’t let hearing loss stand in his way of living an interesting and energetic life. He’s confident, talented, a great advocate for HoH needs and accommodations. Maclain is someone who steps up to work in his community for lasting change. 

Speak up for Communication Access

Thank you for all you do, Maclain! Thank you for trying to reach as many members of the HoH community as you can. And, for challenging them to make permanent changes in the world by advocating for their needs themselves.

If you’re not speaking up for your needs. You’re not alone. If you’re not asking for the accommodations that allow you to participate, we get it. Many HoH people have no idea what they need or what accommodations are available to them. Hearing Loss LIVE! can help you learn the skills you need to be a good self advocate. Let us help you help yourself.

Watch our companion podcast with Maclain Drake.

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