Saturday, February 9, 2008



I'm 19 years old, as of March 22nd :)

I was born profoundly deaf in both ears, diagnosed deaf at 5 months old. The doctors didn't think I was deaf, but my mother had a feeling something was wrong because I didn't respond to loud sounds or any sounds at all.

She fortunately works at a company that has deaf employees and a great majority of the clients use sign language or tactile sign language (sign for the blind), so she knew some sign already!

I participated in the Parent Infant Program (PIP) in Seattle when I was 6 months old and continuing up to the age of about three. This program provides a parent-support group, free sign language teachers once a week for parents, and resources for parents with deaf infants. I met my (also fully deaf) best friend there, who is one month older than me! We're still friends 18 years later.

I attended school starting at about three years old, in accordance with the early intervention programs' recommendation for deaf children. My parents wanted to give me the best advantage possible. I went to an elementary school in Seatac, riding everyday from Federal Way (about a 30 minute ride, but made longer because of the stops to pick up other children.)

With the great participation of my parents (they posted signs on everything- for example "table" on table, and fingerspelled some words that could be signed, made sure the televisions were captioned, etc), I learned to read at three years old. I loved reading and some of my earliest memories are of reading and of my mom fingerspelling to me. It all just seemed like a puzzle to solve.

I recall realizing I could lipread when my Grandpa Herb was talking to me and I couldn't understand him. He then spoke slowly and said something like, "You should learn to lipread" and I realized I could understand what he had said. I was around three or four years old when I consciously began learning lipreading. It really helped that both my parents mouth words along with their signing, so I began consciously paying attention to that.

I was in an exclusively-deaf classroom until 4th grade, when I mentioned I wasn't challenged and my mother talked to the school and got them to mainstream me into a 5th grade math class. The school saw success in that and started trying to mainstream deaf students more. A lot of the deaf students including myself were put into a mainstreamed science class in 5th grade, but for the majority of the time I was in a classroom where all the teachers signed.

Although the elementary school went up to 6th grade, I left in 5th grade and transferred to another school district that was reputed to have a better deaf program. So, I entered a new elementary school in the last year of elementary school. This kind of sucked because everyone already knew each other all their years of elementary school. I was also mainstreamed (meaning I had an interpreter in regular classes) full time which I loved, because I was finally challenged. I was also required to wear hearing aids full time at school. I don't really recall my opinions on this, except that I didn't like it when I got scolded for forgetting my hearing aids. I also didn't like seeming "different" but didn't mind the sound much. I sometimes turned it off in the cafeteria because it was extremely loud!

Then, my best friend transferred to the same district for junior high. We attended 7th-9th grade at the junior high. I then decided I was tired of having to go out of district for school and that I wanted to escape the stigmas and preconceptions of deaf people in a school district that already had protocols for how to handle deaf students. I wanted to be able to go to school, period. (I was fully mainstreamed in junior high, however.)

So, I transferred to a local high school only 3 miles from my home! The first few months were ridiculously unorganized. I went a few weeks without an interpreter for some or all of my classes. So, I relied on paper/pen, others' notes, and lipreading (which isn't reliable especially when the teacher is teaching new material that you can't anticipate or when the teacher turns around or moves around!) but I have to admit, I enjoyed the sheer unpredictability of it all.

My mom and I interviewed the potential interpreters ourselves, for the school district! We interviewed several people before we met Bianca who is an AMAZING interpreter!! She interpreted by herself for the whole school day (!!), for my sophomore year.

Then, for my junior and senior years of high school I did running start (a program in Washington state where you can get high school credits while also earning credits for an A.A degree.) So I retained my amazing interpreter for those two years.

The fall after graduating, I went to Highline C.C to finish getting my A.A but also because I wasn't certain what I wanted to do. I've always wanted to travel but didn't want to move out of Washington state quite yet! So on a last-minute decision, I applied to the University of Washington among some other colleges, and was accepted. I started attending in December 2007 for winter quarter.

I made the decision to research/get an implant about 2 months before my 19th birthday, and I'm not sure when I'll get it! I'm undergoing the whole candidacy process right now but essentially, they've already kind of said it's obvious I'm a candidate. It surprises me how easy it seems so far.

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