Scotland

'I am a DJ who just happens to be deaf'

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Media captionDespite his deafness, John can feel the vibrations of the music

Like any other DJ, John McDevitt puts a lot of effort into creating his DJ sets.

He carefully sets the right mood for the crowd.

He lines up the different beats of the music.

He transitions seamlessly from track to track.

But what sets John apart from other DJs, is that he is completely deaf.

"I've experienced a lot of negativity towards being a deaf DJ," John reveals to BBC Scotland.

"Many people have said to me in the past: 'You're deaf. How can you hear? How can you DJ? How can you love music?'

"I just say to them - everyone has their own way of loving music, it doesn't mean that the way you do it is wrong.

"I can still love music and I can still be a DJ - I just happen to be deaf."

'Feeling the music'

While his hearing aid does improve his ability to hear sound, John admits that the way he hears music is probably different to the average person.

"When I play a DJ set, I tend to pay more attention to the vibrations and the beat of the music."

Image caption John McDevitt plays DJ sets around the UK under the alias 'Def Beatz'

He adds: "It's just the way I love music - it's how I hear it, how I feel it."

John, from Newarthill in Motherwell, believes that music can be enjoyed by absolutely anyone and it was this passion for music that helped him learn to talk as a child.

He describes how he used to sit in front of a speaker, turn the music up and say the lyrics out loud in time to the particular song that was playing.

"Music is great for timing and I used music to control the speed of my speech," John explains.

"Music also helped with my pronunciation."

Despite growing up with music all around him, John initially struggled to work up the courage to pursue his passion of being a DJ.

"I was so worried about what those with full-hearing would think when they saw a deaf DJ," he admits.

"I thought that people would judge me because of stupid things - such as how I wore my headphones or how close I stood to the speaker."

After almost a decade, John finally faced his fears and played a DJ set at a club night run by Groove City Radio.

"I was sweating and shaking with nerves, but once I got into the groove I absolutely loved it," he recalls

"Everyone was dancing and they were all so surprised that I played just as well as any of the other DJs there."

'Defying prejudice'

Since that night, John has gone on to play DJ sets all over the UK and in Ibiza under the alias 'Def Beatz'.

Despite overcoming the limitations of his disability, John explains that it is still sometimes difficult being a DJ who is deaf.

"Mixing tracks can be hard so, to keep in time with the music, I often clap my hands or tap my feet on the floor.

"I also like to keep the speakers as close to me as possible so I can feel the vibrations from the floor."

John reveals that he has also experienced some prejudice within the industry towards his deafness.

"It's actually quite hard for club promoters to appreciate that I'm a DJ because I'm deaf, so I put my own night on and called it 'Decibel Sessions'."

He hopes that other deaf people will follow his example of overcoming obstacles and will strive to pursue their passion, despite their disability.

"There are no barriers," John affirms.