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June 16, 2003

Deafness hasn't curbed man's career

From: Monroe News Star, LA - Jun 16, 2003

Leesha Faulkner / Education Editor

A picture of a boy wearing a headset in the School for Hard of Hearing in Ouachita Parish appears in the Oct. 10, 1961, edition of the Monroe Morning World.

The boy, Glenn Roscoe, now is chief financial officer of Louisiana Delta Community College. As a visitor speaks to Roscoe in his office Thursday morning, Roscoe watches closely. When Roscoe replies, his speech, slightly impeded, seems distinct.

Roscoe is one of 28 million Americans with a hearing loss - in his case a near total loss in both ears.

It hasn't stopped him. And, it won't, he said.

Roscoe, 47, has three tenets by which he has lived: have a positive attitude, give 110 percent at work and don't give up.

"It's a good life," he said.

A report in 1995 from Dr. John Shea Jr. of Shea Clinic in Memphis plainly stated Roscoe's deafness:

"You have a very severe, near total senorineural hearing loss in both ears, with very poor comprehension in your right ear and no comprehension for words in your left ear, present since birth, due to lack of development of your hearing nerves, related to, but not caused by your congenital problems with your lower intestine."

When he was an infant, Roscoe had a blockage in his lower intestine. The drugs given to him, Roscoe said, caused nerve damage and affected his hearing. He said he doesn't regret the loss of hearing because the situation boiled down to "either die or get that done."

Roscoe's parents also made a choice not to send their son to the School for the Deaf in Baton Rouge, but to keep him in Monroe with the family and have him educated locally.

Roscoe attended Ouachita Parish schools in the first and second grades - taking classes at the School for the Hard of Hearing, then operated out of Ouachita Parish Junior High School.

Roscoe also started speech therapy at what is now known as the University of Louisiana at Monroe. That's where he learned to speak.

"I'm still not the best, but it's better than being mute," he said.

After second grade, Roscoe said he was on his own.

"I was just like everybody else," he said.

He attended public high school in Ouachita Parish, graduating with a 3.95 average. He entered what was then Northeast Louisiana University, now ULM.

Roscoe found college classes posed an additional challenge for him.

"All the tests in high school came out of the books," he said. "In college, the tests were based on lectures."

Roscoe could have had someone to take notes for him. A sign language interpreter wouldn't have helped because Roscoe doesn't know sign language. He always has preferred to read lips.

"You can't use sign language in public, so why learn it?" he said.

In college, Roscoe would read lips of his professors and scribble down notes. After class, he'd copy the notes over.

"It's a good way to help you on tests, if you have to re-write, you learn better," he said.

After college graduation, Roscoe took a job in 1979 with Bancroft Bag Inc. in West Monroe.

He stayed at that company until he went to work as a financial and compliance auditor for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospital's Division of Audit Services in West Monroe. For eight years, he audited or performed audit reviews.

In 1988, Roscoe began working at the Ruston Developmental Center Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, where in March 1990 he became director of administrative services.

In June 2001, Delta Community College Chancellor Lynn Kreider hired Roscoe as the fledgling school's chief finance officer and business manager.

Kreider calls Roscoe his Mr. Spock, referring to the supremely logical Vulcan character from "Star Trek." As Spock's Capt. Kirk trusted his first officer's best guesses nearly implicitly, so Kreider trusts his financial officer.

"I feel more comfortable with Glenn's guesses than most people do with the facts," Kreider said.

The road hasn't been particularly hard, Roscoe said, adding that his family inspired him and encouraged a positive attitude.

"The main thing is if things don't work out, God did it for a reason," Roscoe said.

His office at Delta has its technological aids to help Roscoe overcome some hurdles he might face in the working world. For instance, a light on the telephone lets him know when it's ringing. The volume, loud, allows Roscoe to communicate, although he'd much prefer to "talk" via e-mail.

Roscoe said his home phone in Calhoun is hearing-aid compatible with a light that blinks when there's a call. His alarm clock triggers a lamp to light and wake him.

Roscoe's hearing loss hasn't hurt his social life. When he meets a woman he wants to date, he tells her up front that he can't hear.

"I'm fine with it, if they have a problem," he said. "That's my attitude, I'm not down because they didn't want to go out."

He doesn't like to go to the movies. Instead Roscoe likes to rent videos or DVDs because they're closed captioned.

"Some dates say the closed caption is a distraction," he said. "I see the whole screen."

Roscoe enjoys music. The radio in his automobile often has the volume wide open.

"I love music, but I can't hear the words and the music," he said. Mostly Roscoe hears the bass and drums. He prefers music with a fast beat.

Wendi Travis, vice chancellor of administrative services at Delta vouches for Roscoe's feel for music. She's ridden in the car with the sound up, she said, laughing.

"I have to turn it down when somebody's in the car with me," Roscoe said.

This man, an avid golfer, said nothing much frightens him except the dark.

"I miss hearing in the dark," he said. "I hate driving in the car and people talking at night. I'm kind of cold in the dark because I can't read lips."

But he's never given up. He's never wanted to.

Well, maybe sometimes, Roscoe said.

"When I'm in a golf tournament and 10 strokes back, I think about giving up," he said with a laugh.

Copyright © 2003 The News-Star, a Gannett publication.