A Conversation with Mimi Phommachanh

Deafness is an invisible disability, which has can create a range of issues when navigating the world,  different issues to ones faced by those of us who have more obvious disabilities.  Often there are no visible signs that a person who is deaf has disability, no white cane, no wheelchair.

I do not know what it is like to be deaf, but from my shared experience with friends who are, I have a sense of appreciation about how important it is to navigate communication barriers, and overcome a sense of isolation.

This was an interesting Inspired story to bring together – English was translated to Laos, shared with Mimi by Laotian Sign language as well as the written word, her response was then signed and translated in reverse back to Laos then English!
We are so happy that we had support from our friends in Laos, and an opportunity to meet Mimi.

The power of sharing experiences with others who are the same as us has also had a profound impact on our latest Inspired storyteller MimI Phommachanh.

I have no doubt that, with opportunity and her inquisitive nature, Mimi will not only emerge as a leader in her community, but will continue to break down misconceptions about what it is like to be a deaf woman in Laos.  Read more about Mimi and her dream in the story below.

Find out more about how I was inspired to share this series of Laos women’s stories with you here.

Tell us about yourself

I am Mimi Phommachanh. I am 20 years old. There are four people in my family and I live in Vientiane.

What has been your journey of disability?

I was born deaf.

Are there things about you that people misunderstand because of your disability?

Deaf people have appearance the same as hearing people, so a person who is deaf may be easily be mistaken as a hearing person.

What words would you use to describe yourself?

Loving, and helpful.

What’s one thing that someone has taught you that completely changed your life?

It completely changed my life when I  met a foreign person who was also deaf.  Some day I would love to go to various countries to talk to many people by sign language too.


Who or what has been the most significant influences on who you are today?

Sign language classroom. I want to become a sign language teacher. Seeing the students understanding what has been taught makes me very happy.

What’s one thing about you that surprises people?

People often surprise that there are many people with hearing impairment. Even I myself. I met deaf people who came to Laos from abroad. I was very surprised.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Learn a lot of sign language and become a sign language teacher.

Is there something that you would like people to know about you or about people with disability that they might not know?

I want people to know more about sign language.

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