Emilie has been deaf since birth. She says she has no hearing in her left ear and wears a hearing aid in her right. She’s open about her deafness, joking that people talk to her as though she can’t hear at all, dumbing down their language and tone of voice.
Seeing the funny side of her disability seems like a leveller for the pair. Sheri jokes that Emilie will think she’s whispering but she’ll really be yelling about how bad the food tastes!
Sheri and Emilie are fun, vibrant and beautiful women, and I will be cheering them on!
There has been a number of Australian reality TV contestants with disabilities on our screens over the years – John Hughes from season three of MasterChef has cerebral palsy, Gemma from season 11 of Big Brother has Marfan Syndrome (a condition that causes her to be very tall), Rachel Leahcar from season one of The Voice is blind, and Katrina from The Block in 2011 has Crohn’s disease (a condition affecting her bowel).
It’s so important that people with disabilities are included in the mainstream media – especially as reality TV contestants. Inclusion in media normalises people with disability. It takes them to viewers’ screens and allows viewers to see a full, fun and voluntarily challenging life lived, with varying interests and skills.
One in five Australians have a disability. We need this to be represented on our TV.
Craig Wallace, president of People with Disability Australia says Australian TV lags behind with including disability on TV. “People with a visible disability are often invisible on Prime time tellie in Australia. This is in contrast to the US and UK where we have seen major characters with disability break out in shows like Breaking Bad or Eastenders as well as reality TV”, Craig says.
“Reality TV has really become a staple of Australian prime time TV so its great that Sheri and Emilie will be part of My Kitchen Rules this year.
“I love how the promotion so far has been around them cooking up a storm rather than just about Emilie being deaf. I’m looking forward to seeing them wow the judges”, Craig says.
My Kitchen Rules starts on Channel 7 on 2 February.