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Writer's Block: Deaf Awareness

In conjunction with Deaf Awareness Month, discuss some famous deaf people who have helped to make history. If you're hearing impaired yourself, give us a sense of what your experience is like, so we can better appreciate it.

I'm Deaf! I don't have much to add about this that people on my friends list don't know already, but I figured for the sake of the prompt. i was born with 95 dB hearing loss, meaning i'm profoundly Deaf. My mom had a bad infection that made her septic when she was pregnant with me, and they had to give her antibiotics which is probably what caused my hearing loss. my cochlea are pretty much destroyed. my mom was already an interpreter (weird coincidence huh?) and was a firm supporter in raising deaf children bilingually and not forcing oralism (making Deaf kids learn to lip read and speak, which they used to do in Deaf schools instead of letting kids sign) or CIs (cochlear implants) on them. So i was raised with ASL as my first language then learned written english which I use in school (i'm mainstreamed at a regular public high school).

Unlike most deaf people born to hearing parents I was very lucky that my mom knew a lot about Deaf culture and could sign. Between her, me and my little sister, our house is often a fluent signing environment. I was never made to take speech lessons or wear hearing aids (in my case theyre both pretty worthless) except for a short time when I lived with my grandparents who have very outdated views on deafness. this has allowed me to really succeed in the classroom, even though it has been a lot of work. I didn't go to a Deaf school because 1) there wasn't one close and 2) even though my mom supports the idea of a Deaf community, right now almost all Deaf schools fall really behind academically.

I use an interpreter for all my classes. in elementary school i worked mostly with a special ed teacher (usually my mom) where i learned my subjects in sign and was taught english. i had lunch and art and those classes with everyone else all the time. as my english got better i was integrated into the normal class and by 5th grade i was completely mainstreamed. my IEP (education plan, mandated for students with disabilities in public schools) has me take a "learning lab" still, a special class like a study hall where i work on my english reading. now as a senior, i don't need it and use it for homework.

I live a normal life. i was a competitive gymnast (level 10) before i became a varsity cheerleader. i live in a small, rural town, without any Deaf community, but since I moved here when i was in kindergarten and have gone to school with this same people since then, most of my classmates and friends know a little bit of sign up to pretty solid contact sign (ASL signs put in english word order). i used to go to a camp for the Deaf in the mountains near by as a kid, so even though I'm mainstreamed, i have a lot of Deaf friends around the country. I've taken an AP class and am applying for colleges right now. I'm looking at two "Deaf" schools, Gallaudet and CSU-Northridge, in addition to two "hearing" schools.

my biggest problem was with jobs. i help out at my uncle's ski shop, so i don't have communication problems there. I also got a job working part-time at Pac Sun. I mostly fold clothes and sometimes ring people up. on my name tag there's a little sticker and says hello! i'm Deaf. mostly so customers won't think i'm ignoring them, lol! as far as future careers that's my biggest concern. I don't want to be stuck working at a deaf school, so we'll see. I guess i'll know more when i get to college.

i recently got hearing aids again but can't understand speech/never will. i can kind of hear music, but it's been taking a long time for my brain to sort all the sounds out. i can hear the sirens from ambulances and stuff now when i drive though! (yes Deaf people can drive with no restrictions, we're actually better drivers with less accidents because we rely on visual cues so much). i just started dating a new guy, who i know from school. He's slowly picking up sign which is great. I'm obsessed with my sidekick which lets me text and IM and tmail my friends all the time and has a built in relay call (a thing where I can type and call normal voice phones). they're kind of big in the Deaf community.

if you have any questions, feel free to ask!!


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September 2008


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