I Am DEAF: From Sheltered to Sure
~ Authored By JeeAnna Huber
I am DEAF
“You are not deaf” and “You are hard of hearing” are the most common statements I hear from people. What’s wrong with these statements is I Am DEAF. One has to look at my audiogram and understand that my hearing loss is in the profound hearing loss region in both ears! I may speak well. I have Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) as well as my family to thank for that. I put a lot of effort into learning to speak, and I am proud that I have the ability to speak well as a DEAF person.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am 44 years old, but I was adopted from Seoul, Korea when I was 6 months old. My parents did not know I was deaf until, when I was 2 years old, my grandmother mentioned I may have a hearing problem. I went to the pediatrician who did simple tests to confirm that I had a hearing loss, and he referred my parents to CID. I was at CID from 1976 to 1983 and mainstreamed in an elementary school near my home. I was sheltered!
Hidden from the Deaf World
I didn’t even have a TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) to communicate on the phone. Instead I had to learn how to use the phone to talk to people. I didn’t know about Deaf Teen Club or anything. I got through life with my hearing aids and school with a FM system to use in the hearing world. I struggled with family gatherings and still do to this day.
Learning about the Deaf World
I had no idea about the Deaf World until I went to college. I had never heard of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and other resources that I could use until college. I used note takers and the FM system to get through college and obtained my first bachelor degree. Even then I was still sheltered until I reunited with old friends from CID. I started learning sign language. Learning sign language, reconnecting with deaf friends, and meeting new deaf people has broadened my knowledge of the Deaf World.
Communication Technology I Use
“Oh my word!!! Holy Moly,” was my thought as I started learning more about the Deaf World. I couldn’t believe how much I had missed out on – so many resources! With resources, I was armed and ready to go back to college to obtain a second bachelor degree!! I got a TDD at the time but have since transitioned to a Sorenson VP (video phone service). Today, because of cell phones, I don’t communicate on the TDD since it’s not really compatible with my digital hearing aid. That’s alright. I am DEAF and I know enough sign language to make phone calls through my Sorenson VP.
Because of my knowledge of sign language, I take advantage of whatever resources are out there! For instance, I think it is so important that there are sign language interpreters to help me. I always request an interpreter when I am at doctor appointments or any function when the need arises. I love the fact there are more resources out there than ever to help me and any other deaf person.
So How should We Respond?
Also, I believe the hearing world is becoming more aware and understanding of the Deaf Community. For example, my primary care physician refuses to see me unless I have an interpreter with me. Just because I speak well and people think I am not really deaf, I am forever grateful that there are resources and sign language interpreters. I encourage hearing people to provide sign language interpreters to deaf people without a second thought. Use Sorenson VP or other companies available to make phone calls to the deaf. It will definitely bridge excellent communication between the Deaf and Hearing Worlds. There will be appreciation on both ends to know that nothing was amiss in communication. Also, I encourage the Deaf Community to utilize the resources to their advantage to communicate with the Hearing World. I do because I am DEAF, too.