COLUMBUS, Ohio — Serious hearing loss is a reality many of us haven’t had to navigate, but, according to the CDC, over 6% of adults are deaf or have serious difficulty hearing.

September is Deaf Awareness Month and one Ohio woman is advocating for people living with disabilities.

What You Need To Know

  • Mykenna Roy was born deaf in both ears and wears biliteral hearing aids

  • Roy helped form a startup company called Aleph Innovations, which focuses on implementing artificial intelligence in the health care system

  • She uses her position in Aleph Innovations to represent those living with disabilities

Mykenna Roy was born deaf in both ears and wears biliteral hearing aids. She doesn’t know life any other way. 

“I was born deaf to a deaf father and a hearing mother,” said Roy.

Her sister is also deaf.

It wasn’t the inability to hear that was the hard part. Rather, she said, it was the feeling of being different from her classmates.

“All of us, as deaf kids, we were kind of confused as to why other kids were so weirded out by us and our disabilities and why our teachers wouldn’t mix us together,” Roy said.

But that social barrier — that lack of understanding — would later become her biggest motivator.

“From that age, age nine,” she said, “that was when I was like, ‘okay, I’m going to do something. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I want to do something to change people’s minds’.”

Now, many years later in college, Roy helped found a startup company called Aleph Innovations. Through it, Roy and her team work to implement artificial intelligence in the health care system — Roy’s focus includes representing those living with disabilities.

“I’m kind of the voice for those minority groups, especially people with disabilities,” she explained. “I make sure that their needs are accounted for. So, not only am I communicating with a potential patient, but also with doctors.”

But she said her ultimate dream is to become “a doctor in a hospital and really take the opportunities to put them toward a person or a child with a disability.”

Though she still has a ways to go, Roy hopes her passion inspires others along the way.

“There will be a lot of people that will tell you ‘no’,” said Roy. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘no, you can’t do this. You’re not going to be able to do this’ in my life, but I just don’t listen to them. You can get around it, and I fully believe in that.”