Deaf singer who made ‘America’s Got Talent’ top 5 to keynote Work Without Limits’ Raise the Bar Hire! conference

September 13, 2018

A deaf singer who defied the odds to finish fourth on “America’s Got Talent” will be one of several enlightening speakers at the Raise the Bar HIRE! Conference Oct. 10 hosted by UMass Medical School’s Work Without Limits and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

“We are excited that the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission is our partner for the sixth annual Raise the Bar Hire! Conference,” said Work Without Limits Director Kathleen A. Petkauskos. “Partnership is critical if we are going to move the dial toward increased employment for people with disabilities in Massachusetts. Our goal is for Massachusetts to lead the nation by equalizing employment statistics among those with and without disabilities. Getting there will require collaboration, and commitment among all stakeholders.”

Mandy Harvey wowed audiences with her near pitch-perfect voice, original songs and ukulele prowess on the 12th season of “America’s Got Talent,” even earning the coveted “Golden Buzzer” award from Simon Cowell for a flawless performance. Her remarkable finish on the show once seemed impossible to Harvey, who fell into a deep depression after a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 3 led her to lose her hearing at age 18.

Harvey had to re-teach herself how to sing without sound, performing without shoes to feel the beat. She used a visual tuner to watch herself sing and practiced up to 70 hours a week to learn how to pronounce words correctly so her dream of being a singer could be realized. Feisty and determined, Harvey hopes her journey will inspire others with disabilities.

The sixth annual Raise the Bar HIRE! Conference is hosted by Work Without Limits, an initiative dedicated to advancing the employment of people with disabilities, and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), a state agency devoted to helping people with disabilities live and work independently.

“The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission provides comprehensive services to individuals with disabilities that maximize their quality of life and economic self-sufficiency,” said MRC Commissioner Toni Wolf. “Ms. Harvey is an inspiration to all of us, and our collaboration with Work Without Limits will help connect individuals with disabilities to meaningful employment opportunities.”

In addition to the keynote address by Harvey, the event will feature educational breakout sessions, exhibitors and networking opportunities. It will be held on Oct. 10 from 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Four Points Sheraton in Norwood.

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