PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A hard of hearing choir leader is in the running for a national award for his work to change the perceptions of what it means to have hearing loss.
"When I was young, I had the Measles. And so when the Measles spread through the ears, it caused the inner-ear cilia basically to be destroyed," said Matt Deller.
Matt lost about 90% of his hearing due to the Measles. "So I can hear, but it's a hard thing to do to understand speech. So I read lips."
Matt's hearing impairment didn't stop a love for music. He started as a percussionist, then began directing a choir at a church in Washington.
"I think God gave me a talent. I have a perfect pitch as well, which helps a lot," Matt said. "The best part is I read lips, so when I'm conducting a choir, and they're singing for me, I can tell where the mistakes are by watching the choir."
Matt's now been directing choirs for about 20 years, describing the feeling as "amazing."
"I say any young person can do anything they want," Matt said. "Don't let the hearing impairment get in your way."
You can vote for Matt in the Oticon Focus on People Awards until November 16th.
"My world may be a little different than yours as far as hearing, but I pick up everything. I can hear the highs I can hear the lows. I can hear the swells I can hear the soft parts," Matt said. "I always feel so great when I turn around and the audience gives us that joy."