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


Kei-Che Randle

I self-identify as….

Deaf (with a big D)

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Love "signing" to songs, going for walks, visiting beaches, writing poems

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

I was diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of 7. I identified as Hard of Hearing. I kept falling asleep in class (listening fatigue). My school's team decided to test my hearing. I have a bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. I'm bimodal with a hearing aid and hybrid cochlear implant now. There's no history of hearing loss in my family and I wasn't sick as a child. I am the only Deaf individual in my family.

Neal Savage

I self-identify as….

Deaf

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy the outdoors and camping, as well as reading and watching YouTube videos in my free time. I am always on the hunt for more music and ways to entertain myself. Also, for several years in high school I volunteered and rode at an equestrian facility.

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

I was born completely deaf and my parents found that fact out when I was around 18 months old. At the time, in 1999, when I was born, newborn children did not receive hearing tests like they do nowadays, so it was a while before my parents found out about my deafness. My parents are not deaf so my deafness is not genetic, as was further proven by genetic testing. Also, I was born deaf. Between these facts, the cause of my deafness is not really known.

Jane Swift

I self-identify as….

I introduce myself as hard of hearing. Previously I would identify as hearing impaired. I feel like when I say hearing impaired, I am taken more seriously.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I am an extrovert. I love planning social gatherings, events and spending time with my family and friends.

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

I was born in 1979 and they didn’t have new born hearing screening tests at that time. As a toddler I put something in my ear and it got stuck and I was taken to the doctor to have it removed. We all assumed this is how I lost my hearing. In elementary school I remember wearing hearing aids but the amplification was so loud that it was better to not wear any aids at all. What I did know is that my hearing loss was on one side only. I knew this because I couldn’t talk on the phone on that side and my parents and friends would ask me why I kept turning one side of my head towards them when they spoke. I spoke well and you could not tell that I had hearing loss, because of that it was ignored by most and I struggled immensely throughout school. As an adult I got tested and come to find out I have single sided deafness.

I self-identify as….

Deaf

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.

Irit Spektor

I self-identify as….

Hard of Hearing / Deaf

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Dance, reading, music, art

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

My parents didn't find out about my hearing loss. I was compensating throughout my childhood and was a great student, so no one suspected anything. It was a friend in high school who noticed. She saw me miss important information in the classroom. She always had to tell me when a test was coming up. I learned everything from books. I finally took myself to a first hearing test when I was about 21 years old. I always knew that my dad had a hearing loss. Years after my diagnosis, we discovered that my siblings are also HOH as well as 2 out of my 3 daughters. Our hearing loss is genetic.