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October 8, 2002

A deaf person needs consideration, not isolation

From: Syracuse Post Standard, NY
Oct. 8, 2002

By Elizabeth Tricase
Contributing writer

There are many things I would like to tell hearing people about deaf and hard-of-hearing people. We don't want to be isolated; rather, we want to be treated fairly. We just want to be part of this world we live in. We may be deaf, but we have a lot to say.

First of all, hearing people should know how to communicate with a person who has difficulty hearing. There are many ways that they can do so. There is sign language, with which you use your hands to communicate. There is also lip-reading. Some people can lip-read without having to hear sounds.

You can also write down words to show a deaf or hard-of-hearing person what you want to tell them.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people have a hard time understanding words that are said to them. When they ask you "What?" or "Excuse me?" simply repeat what you have said. Above all, don't get frustrated and give up. It makes the deaf and hard-of-hearing person feel as if they did something wrong.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people are intelligent. We have dreams and ambitions. I am proud to say that I am an honor roll student.

Teachers should know if they have a deaf or hard-of-hearing student in their class so they can meet their needs. Deaf and hard-of-hearing students need extra help when it comes to note-taking because we need to watch the teacher at all times.

Deaf or hearing-impaired students often have an interpreter who signs or helps them with lessons. In this case, anyone who needs to speak to the student should speak directly to the student, not the interpreter. When people speak directly to the interpreter, it is rude to the hearing-impaired student.

Sometimes hearing-impaired students do not use an interpreter. Teachers need to understand how difficult this can be for the student. When teachers write on the board, they need to make sure they don't teach while their backs are to the class.

I do not have an interpreter, so it is very important that I am my own advocate. I need to be assertive and ask questions. This can be very difficult because I want so badly to fit in with my peers. I don't want to be different. Teachers need to understand this.

Most deaf and hard-of-hearing people cannot use the phone. Many use a TTY, which is a phone with a typewriter. If the person they are calling does not have a TTY, a relay operator is used.

I use instant messaging on the Internet to communicate with others. Instant messaging and e-mail keep me connected with my family and friends.

Some people may say that being hearing-impaired is a disability, and there will be limitations in my life. I thoroughly disagree. Throughout my life, I have always been told I can do anything I want to do.

I plan to attend college and major in elementary education. Athletics are also a big part of my life. I play on the soccer, basketball and softball teams at my high school. It is important for me to be a good role model for hearing-impaired children so they know that anything is possible.

There have been challenges along the way, but overcoming these challenges has made me the person I am today. Elizabeth Tricase is a senior at Bishop Grimes High School. This column is from an essay that earned her a commendable award in the fourth annual Gallaudet National Essay Contest for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students. Students, teachers or parents interested in participating in the Voices column should call Paul Riede at 470-2138 or e-mail him at

© 2002 The Post-Standard.