Stories of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) adults

Stories are powerful. If done well, stories not only entertain but they also teach us
This form of storytelling is called “narrative”. We are all wired for narrative; it is what connects us to one another.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) individuals with diverse languages, modes of communication, ages, education, and life experiences play an important role in the journey for families with children who are DHH. Knowing the tremendous value of narrative, California Hands & Voices conducted written interviews with DHH adults for families to explore each unique journey and benefit from the wealth of knowledge told through their stories.

You may find while reading these narratives, your thoughts take you in a direction different from the rest of the story. We may suggest that you stay with that thought, for it is that part of the story that will teach you something new about yourself. This is the power of story.

A note of appreciation. This important resource would not be available if it were not for Deaf and Hard of Hearing adults who agreed to share their experiences. Thank you for making a positive impact on the life of every family who will read your story. The interviews give families access to the wide range of opportunities available for their child. We thank you.

Resources to check out!

“Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.”
Oprah Winfrey

Delanie Harrington

I self-identify as….

Hard of hearing, deaf (not Deaf), disabled.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Reading and writing, music (listening and playing), board games.

Please tell us about your earliest years of life related to your hearing, identification etc.

I was tested very young, and doctors initially failed to recognize that I was deaf. They told my parents I was "slow." Eventually, my nana noticed that I specifically didn't respond when I was facing away from a person, and so my parents had me tested again when I was 2. They were told that I was moderate-severely deaf (sensorineural), and I got my first set of hearing aids. It is most likely from Enlarged Vestibular Aqueducts (EVA). I got my cochlear implant at 8. My parents spoke with many people, and fortunately, they were good friends with a teacher of the deaf. After they chose to raise me orally, I attended CCHAT preschool for spoken language for deaf children.

Deb Martin with son

I self-identify as….


What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Cooking, paddle boarding, travel, exploring and adventure, music, friends, family.

Please tell us about your earliest years of life related to your hearing, identification etc.

I was diagnosed with mild to moderate loss in one ear, and moderate to severe in the other. As I got older, I went through countless tests with a pioneer in hearing loss - Dr. Maurice Schiff. I was also particularly susceptible to ear infections which had to be manually treated in Dr. Schiff's office. Very painful and uncomfortable. They did try to determine the genesis for the loss including testing for Rh+ blood factors, but that appeared to be negative. My Mom believes she had either an aunt or a grandmother with hearing loss that might have contributed, but I believe it was due to me being her first pregnancy at age 40. But honestly, no one knows for sure. My hearing loss deteriorated as I got older and my speech comprehension was terrible by my early/mid 30's. I was actually tested and qualified for an implant at age 39, but I waited 4 years to get an implant partially due to waiting on the constantly changing/improving technology and partially because I was having a hard time accepting how my life might change - better or worse -after surgery. I spent a lot of time researching and talking to people and staff from Cochlear and Advanced Bionics before making a decision (AB).

I self-identify as….

Hard of Hearing (if CI's are on), deaf (if CI's are off)

Please share a little about your education placement & extracurricular activities as a youth.

I was mainstreamed (no need to move), stayed consistent throughout K-12. I received FMs (microphones and speakers) and CART. I was involved with some extracurriculars such as Key Club.

Please tell us about your relationships with DHH peers as a youth and how they impacted your life.

I have several close friends DHH friends from CCHAT, a preschool we went to together. When we went our separate paths, we found ways to meet and otherwise maintain our friendships - one being through the annual attendance of DHH Family Camp, one of my fondest memories. We are friends even now, over 20 years later. Both CCHAT and DHH Family Camp were vital to maintaining my connections to my DHH peers.