“The Real Deals”: Geneva family uses TikTok to raise awareness
GENEVA, Ala. (WTVY) - In passing, the Deals of Geneva, Alabama seem like your average family of four, but there’s more than what meets the eye. You can watch any of their videos on Tiktok and you’ll figure that out very quickly.
10-year-old Kenzi loves Barbies, and one day wants to be a nurse. Her quick, dry humor captivates the family’s more than two million followers. She is also deaf.
“In one of the videos, her processor was showing, we got a question about it, so we answered with another video, and it just snowballed from there,” explains father, Brandon Deal.
What started out as satisfying curiosity for a few, quickly became a platform for the family.
“It was amazing to me how many people were either misinformed or uninformed, there’s a lot of misconceptions about the deaf community,” Brandon says.
Kenzi’s life has been filled with difficult decisions, and at age 6, her parents granted her wish to receive a cochlear implant.
“We actually did not want to do the cochlear implant, we were worried,” explains Meagan, the matriarch of the family, “but she really wanted to hear again. She loves music, and she used to put her hands on the speakers in the car so she could feel the music. "
Although the cochlear implant is the center of much controversy within the deaf community — Kenzi says she will continue to advocate for it.
“I feel great to talk about my cochlear implant too, and I don’t mind talking about it,” says Kenzi, “some people ask why I wear them. It’s because I am deaf, and I can’t hear what I think at all.”
With so many watching, few things remain private-- Including when the family lost their son last spring. It’s a topic many avoid, but the Deals decided to continue being open with their fans.
“We’ve talked to thousands,” Meagan recounts, “asking “How do you get through it? What do you do? How do you just—go about your day?”
The Deal family tries to help others by starting these not-so-easy conversations, and perhaps by initiating them, change will follow.
“Now that I’m able to talk about it more, I want to help other moms dealing with it. There were so many things that I felt that I wasn’t sure if others were feeling,” Meagan explains, “it’s important to us for people to know about him. I like for everyone to know that I have three kids—one is just in heaven.”
“I remember when we first started on TikTok, they didn’t have the option for the automated captions, so I had to type everything out,” Brandon recalls, “then there was this big movement to get those captions started. In just a short time, there’s been a big movement for stuff like that. Maybe it has something to do with the activity on social media to include the deaf community — it’s good to see.”
The Deals say now that more community events are starting back up, they want to grow their presence in their own community as well, with special appearances and meet and greets.
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