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July 19, 2003

Deaf New Port Richey hairstylist inspires others

From: Bay News, FL - Jul 19, 2003

Tampa Bay is the largest hub in Florida of hearing-impaired people.

Of the 265,000 hearing-impaired people in the area, Nikki Pulliam is one of the fortunate few. She has a job.

Seventy-five percent of the deaf and hard of hearing in Florida are unemployed, but Pulliam accomplishes her job at a hair salon by communicating with customers with notes, signs, pictures or even the help of her boss, who can sign also.

"Her mom said she has had a brush in her hand since she was 3," said Cindy Campbell of Main Street Salon in New Port Richey.

To make the dreams of others who are hearing impaired in Florida, the state is looking to create a commission for the deaf -- to study what services they need, so they can pursue a career, finish school or just make friends.

Pulliam drives to the salon from Brooksville.

"You may not know it, but for those who can't get help communicating, 65 percent don't graduate high school," said state Senator Mike Fasano. "Many don't have jobs and that can lead to isolation, depression and low self-esteem.

The Main Street Salon wants the deaf community to know they have a stylist who can see what they're saying. Nikki Pulliam’s career means so much to her that she drives down from Brooksville every day.

©2003 Bay News 9