Accessibility Accessing Music Advocacy Connections deaf Hard of Hearing Hearing Loss Hearing Technology

Maclain Drake

Maclain Drake lives in Utah and is a favorite in the hearing loss community. He has so much energy! He’s a DJ, an actor, and makes music accessible to those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HoH) with his company Vibe Music Events. 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.

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 and his eagerness to 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 and will go right up in front to get close to the big speakers for the full effect.

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

When Maclain brought his vibrating dance platform with a hearing loop to the Sanderson Community Center several times, I could go into the telecoil program to hear the music better and feel the vibration. There’s no comparison. 

He is the eternal joker but he’s serious about advocacy. He’s willing to help anyone get the proper accessibility at events. 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. His only request is that we go into the venue to request accommodations and continue to request them in the future. “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.” 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 Hearing Loss LIVE!, Maclain had to change to an earlier time at the last minute to participate as part of a committee with the city council. He also serves on a Health committee to represent the HoH. Right away, I looked up my city council to find out when our meetings are so that I can represent our tribe too. Maclain inspires me.

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 and 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, and 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, where he asks for input from the HoH’s on how he can better help them understand accommodations for those with a hearing loss.

When it comes to equal access to communication, he works with his local government. He works with local tech companies. He works with local movie theater companies. He works with national hearing aid companies. He works with national music arenas. He 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, raising the standards and helping the HoH to take what is rightfully theirs—equal access to spoken language.

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 (allows the brain to access sound information through vibration/touch) since first hearing 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. I’ve not had the opportunity to attend a Vibe Music Event, but I hope to during a future visit to Utah.

Not long after hearing about Maclain from Chelle, I met him in person at a HLAA Salt Lake City chapter meeting; then, 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.

Overcoming obstacles is a message that young people, and everyone, with hearing loss needs to hear, and 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, and someone who steps up to work in his community for lasting change. 

Thank you for all you do, Maclain, and 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, or asking for the accommodations that allow you to participate, you’re not alone. 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.

Meet others from the Hard of Hearing Community: Liza Sylvestre artist, Hollie Enniss-Poe parent of a HoH kid, Shanna Groves the Lipreading Mom.

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