The sound of awareness
Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023
By Carrie Hudson
When 2023 East Jessamine High School graduate Maryn Harvey was challenged to create a business for one of her classes, she did not expect it to become a reality.
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Growing up hard of hearing, Harvey felt as if no one was like her.
“I never had someone I could look up to that was like me that had a hearing disability,” she said.
As a result, when given a chance to start a class business, she created one focused on providing representation to those with hearing disabilities.
Harvey called her business Sound Off, which would sell t-shirts and sweatshirts designed to spread awareness and support for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
Finally, she decided to make the leap and make the business a reality a few months after her school project.
The result was www.soundoff.life, and Harvey handled the entire setup by herself initially.
“I designed the whole website by myself and bought a domain,” Harvey said. “I enjoyed doing it. I spent so much time on it, but I enjoyed it.” However, with the legalities of the business, it became something she and her father did together.
“He was able to help me do the legal stuff I didn’t know how to do,” Harvey said.
Each order is handled and packaged by Harvey and includes a Challenge Card. On the back of the Challenge Cards are several ideas for individuals to gain a glimpse into the everyday life of someone hard of hearing. Harvey said she added the cards to make each purchase hopefully more impactful.
“I wanted to make it more personable and understandable,” she said.
Some of the challenges include wearing earplugs, particularly at night. The interactiveness of the cards encourages an understanding of the meaning of having a hearing disability.
“It gives you an insight into what hearing-impaired people have to endure every single day of their lives,” Harvey said.
In starting Sound Off, Harvey credited it to helping her accept her hearing loss.
“I would never wear my hair up and or talk about my hearing loss- I was very insecure about it. Then, meeting my friends and them accepting me, it helped me learn to accept myself. Also, this company really helped, “Harvey said.
Through Sound Off, she hopes to provide the level of acceptance it brought her.
“My hope is to help children, even adults, and to show them to know that they are not alone,” she said.
Moving forward, Harvey will be attending college in the fall to study marketing. She hopes to continue to build upon her love of design and business and become a brand designer.
As for Sound Off, she believes it to be a lifelong project for herself: “I am planning to continue this until I die. It is crazy that I started this, and I don’t want to get rid of it.”
If you want to support Harvey and Sound Off, please check the website. Ten percent of all profits will be donated to The Hearing and Speech Center in Lexington.