I self-identify as….
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Reading, playing games, exercising, wine tastings
Please tell us about your earliest years of life related to your hearing, identification etc.
When I was 4 years old, I woke up one morning completely Deaf. My family didn't notice that morning until my school called them and told them something was wrong. I remember watching TV with my brothers after school and getting upset with them for taking the volume out of the TV. Just prior to this day, I had a high fever and I had fallen off a couch and hit my head. I was taken to the hospital where many tests were performed- for mental retardation. After several tests, the medical team realized I was Deaf (severe-profound loss). At discharge, they gave me a spinal tap to be safe. Years later, I had a cochlear implant and it was discovered that my cochlea was not fully formed and the doctor suspected i may actually have been born hard-of- hearing.
Please share about your relationship with your family and inclusion tips that you have found helpful.
As much as I love my family, I'm still disappointed that no one learned ASL. My parents were told not to use ASL with me to support speech development. That said, my family would "summarize" what was said- when they remembered or I asked. I don't recall any efforts to make sure I was included. My tip: regardless of how well your DHH family member can hear, lip read, etc learn ASL.
Please share a little about your education placement & extracurricular activities as a youth.
Initially I was in the DHH program until 1st grade, then moved to Catholic School with speech therapy and sat in the front of the classroom. In 5th/6th grade, my family realized it was not working for me and I was moved to a mainstream program for the rest of my academic career. We did not live close to the schools with DHH programs, so I spent many hours on the bus. I received interpreters, note taking assistance, auditory trainers, 1:1 support once a day in the DHH classroom. I was involved in many sports (figure skating, tennis, ballet, volleyball, basketball, girl scouts)
Please tell us about your relationships with DHH peers as a youth and how they impacted your life.
I only saw my DHH friends at school. It wasn't until high school that I was able to hang out with my DHH friends outside of school. Other than school, I had no interactions with other DHH peers. Once I was able to interact with DHH peers, my whole world opened up. I could easily engage in conversation, play games, socialize with ease.
Please share how you/your parents prepared for a new school year and any Tips for Teachers that worked for you.
I don't recall any preparation for my teachers, I believe these conversations occurred between the educators and my parents, I wasn't included in this process- not even in high school.
Did you attend your IEP meetings? What memories do you have of your IEP, goals and services?
I don't recall ever attending an IEP meeting.
What type of technology, apps or products for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals do you use?
I use shake awake alarm, videophone, Ring doorbell, closed captions, texting, video chat
Can you tell us a little about your college experience and how did you prepare for college? Any tips?
A teacher helped me prepare for college and connected me with DOR. DOR met all of my accommodation needs. In college, I was given options and used what worked for me: note takers, interpreters, and 1:1 meetings with my professors. CART would have been wonderful for me back then (with interpreters). When I toured my college, I was introduced to several DHH students; however, when I arrived to campus, I found out they had all graduated. I was the only Deaf student on campus (35,000 students). I had declined to attend another university that had a large DHH student group.
Please share a little about your career and any tips for someone considering a similar career?
I'm a social worker. I was actually encouraged to reconsider my career choice (in 1997) because the program "didn't know of any Deaf social workers". I chose this career because I enjoy helping others. I use interpreters almost daily, texting, videophone. I encourage other DHH adults to not give up if this is your passion. I encourage lots of volunteer work and making connections in your field- that's how I was able to get into my career. I've worked in clothing stores, a factory, home appraisal firm. My current job is my favorite.
Please tell us about your relationships with DHH peers as an adult. When meeting a new person what script have you found helpful when telling them that you are DHH?
The majority of my friends are DHH or use ASL. I was introduced to a Deaf friend by an interpreter when I moved to San Diego. Attending DHH events and introducing yourself is the best way to join the community. I introduce myself as Deaf. My script: "Hi, my name is Lynnette, nice to meet you!" Then if asked, I'll say I'm Deaf.
What were some of strategies that your parents, teachers or DHH role models taught you that helped you to be a confident independent person?
I had a teacher that taught me I can do anything. She advocated for me relentlessly. I was not allowed to join the National Honor Society because my community service hours were earned in the Deaf community, although I met all other requirements. The night of awards, she gave me an award she made herself and told the audience of the discrimination. That advocacy still drives me today. I'm assertive but also take time to explain and be patient.
Most DHH children are born to hearing parents. This question may help parents see the world through their child's eyes. Please tell us about your day to day life experiences as a DHH adult.
I'm the only Deaf family member of a large family where no one uses ASL. I can talk very well and lip read well, but miss 90% of what's being said. What's it like? LONELY. With new technology, I can text my family members and have conversations, but I still feel like I missed out on so much growing up.
What accomplishments are you most proud of in your life?
I'm a full-time single mother raising 2 wonderful kids on my own. I have my college degree and have been in my job for 19 years. I'm interacting on a daily basis with other professionals who treat me as an equal. I am adventurous: I've gone skydiving, bungee jumping, water skiing, snow skiing.
What tips and strategies do you have for communicating with a DHH person?
Be patient, ask questions, get creative!
Favorite quote? Final comments?
"Deaf people can do anything except hear"
Let's go out with a bang! Complete this sentence to debunk a misconception about Deaf or Hard of Hearing people. "People may be surprised to know that I....."
have a wicked sense of humor! (And I'm an excellent driver!)