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Hope Cotton, Youth Disrupter and Advocate, speaking at Listen Up 2023

Updated: Oct 6, 2023


This World Hearing Day, March 3rd, join us at Listen Up Conference 2023, where you’ll hear from keynote speaker Hope Cotton, Youth Disrupter and Advocate.


Hope made her debut last year at the Spark Area, where she spoke about her petition to get mandatory closed captioning standards implemented in Aotearoa. Hope is an outstanding youth speaker and a member of our Youth Advisory Group. Today, we are excited to share her story with our readers.


What inspired you to embrace the title of a "youth disrupter"?


"I've never been one to rock the boat. I have always been on the more quiet side. But sometimes, when the systems in place are discriminatory, they must be disrupted. Confrontation has never been in my nature, but I have always had a drive and a passion for justice. When I saw how the lack of accessibility was affecting my community, it gave me the courage to stand up and make a change. I knew that if I helped make even one person's life more accessible, it would be worth stepping out of my comfort zone."


What kind of impact do you hope to make in the world?


"That's a big question. I want to leave the world better than I found it. I hope we all do. On a smaller scale, I always try to treat people with kindness and love. I want to help make someone's day just a little bit better. On a larger scale, I want to continue advocating for change to enable everyone to live a full and happy life. My communities are important to me as a Deaf, Queer and disabled woman. I want to make the world a safer, more accessible place. My goals are always to remove the barriers and difficulties I faced growing up and prevent the next generation from going through the same thing."


How do you think your childhood experience would have been different if the changes you're striving for were already implemented?


"My childhood would have been different if I could have accessed the captioning I am currently advocating for. Not necessarily in big ways, although my education would have certainly been easier to access, but also minor things like being able to go on a family day out to the cinema without worrying about accessibility."


What do you hope people will take away from your speech at Listen Up 2023?


"I hope that people will come away with a greater understanding of the experiences of Deaf children in our education system and why they need greater accommodations. An understanding of the potential of Deaf children and how best to support them would also be a brilliant takeaway."


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