DTV presenter Candice Morgan is trying to create a world in which everyone can hear. By Nwabisa Ngumbela
Growing up, all Candice Morgan wanted was to be a paediatrician. But that dream would never come to be. Why? Because Candice is deaf. Instead of letting that stand in her way, however, she refocused her energy and decided that she wanted to try make a difference in the lives of people with hearing disabilities.
Shining a spotlight
At the tender age of 16, she scored a job as a presenter on DTV (Deaf TV), and by the time she was 22 years old, she was a permanent member of staff. Candice then worked her way up and eventually became executive producer. As the head of production, as well as the host, she gets to determine the content that will reach the viewers. ‘I am the principal presenter, and I also direct and edit inserts. Through these roles I ensure that each episode is on the same level as hearing programmes, therefore fostering deaf identity and pride, while educating the hearing.’
Down, but not out
Back in 2004, Candice was crowned Miss Deaf South Africa and then made the country proud when she became Miss Deaf World. However, things quickly turned sour the following year after she disclosed that she had given birth to a baby boy – this was in direct contravention of the beauty pageant’s strict rules.
Not one to stay down, though, the TV star set her eyes on a new goal: to be a voice for the deaf, proving there is a lesson in every setback.
What defines Candice is her burning ambition to continually further the deaf cause by raising awareness. Currently, she is lobbying to have South African Sign Language (SASL) recognised as an official language, and she is taking the campaign outside the country’s borders too, by reaching out to the 15 SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries for the Zwakala Africa competition hosted by DTV.
We are all the same
Having some kind of handicap often means people will treat you differently. ‘I would love it for hearing people to understand that we can do anything, except hear, and that our deafness will never define us,’ says Candice.
What she usually notices is people tend to ignore her because they are scared, and those who are not afraid treat her with ‘kid gloves’. Candice says, ‘Their uncertainty about being able to communicate with me creates an imaginary obstacle that only they can destroy. I try to encourage them to relax and look past my disability.’
Behind the scenes
Her work at DTV certainly keeps her busy, but Candice’s job doesn’t end when the cameras are turned off. She spends a lot of time as a mentor at HI HOPES – an organisation dedicated to helping deaf and hard-of-hearing kids. She’s also a member of the board at MC Kharbai School for the Deaf and on the national executive committee at DeafSA. The TV personality is doing all of this while studying, with the end goal of representing the deaf in parliament.
Candice says her biggest pride and the best gift of all is her son. ‘He has taught me wonderful lessons about unconditional love, the miracle of life, and my true priorities. I continue to live my own life, and make the choices that are best for me and my son.’
We take our hats off to Candice, who reflects the qualities of a South African who takes pride in changing the world’s perceptions of disability.
Catch DTV on Saturdays at 12 noon on SABC3 and let it help teach you sign language! To read more about DTV’s Zwakala Africa competition, visit deaftv.co.za.