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February 14, 2003

Deaf teacher called to Washington

From: Cincinnati Enquirer, OH - 14 Feb 2003

Bush appoints her to develop accessibility

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Gwendolyn Trujillo, a high school teacher who is deaf, has also spent the last 10 years as an Ohio Rehabilitation Services commissioner.

Next month, the Lakota West High School teacher will go to Washington to do similar work, having been appointed by President Bush to the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Access Board, where she will develop accessibility guidelines and standards for federal facilities.

"I was just ecstatic when I was selected. It will be an honor to serve. I look forward to meeting the president. I know he's busy with so much going on,'' said Trujillo, who lost her hearing at the age of 6 from spinal meningitis complications.

Her selection, said Lakota Superintendent Kathleen Klink, "is a tribute to who she is and what she believes in. We've been enriched to have her here.''

An interpreter assists her in the classroom, where she teaches the second and third levels of American Sign Language. Trujillo will be in Washington March 10-12. Following an orientation session, the Springdale resident will join the board, where "my goal is to assist (people with disabilities) to have a better life and reduce daily struggles.''

Calling herself a survivor, Trujillo said she knows first-hand how difficult it can be for someone with a disability to get around.

"I have learned how to overcome obstacles. I've learned how to deal with it (hearing loss).''

Senior Katie Zeek said she didn't know what to expect when she learned her teacher was deaf and spoke through sign language.

"I was kind of nervous. I didn't know how it would be,'' said Zeek, 17. "You get used to how she teaches.''

Senior Sean Little said Trujillo's challenges presented by her deafness have made her a better teacher.

"She understands we don't fully understand signing,'' Little said. "She'll wait for you to understand and she answers all our questions.''

Fourteen months ago Trujillo was selected to serve as a content expert to assist in developing a new national certification test for interpreters of the deaf. She has also taught American Sign Language at the college level and worked as a social worker with deaf and hard-of-hearing adults and children.

"She's extremely active and recognized throughout the state,'' said Lakota West Principal Richard Hamilton. "This is so special the White House would consider her for this position.''


Copyright 1995-2003. The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.