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October 4, 2004

Holiday House offers help for hearing impaired

From: Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, WI - Oct 4, 2004

By Charlie Mathews
Herald Times Reporter

MANITOWOC — Barbara Anhalt, 44, is deaf but she doesn't feel sorry for herself.

"Deaf is better. I don't hear a lot of noise, don't hear kids crying, don't hear thunder. I sleep good," she said.

Anhalt is an expert with a saw, which she uses to cut wood to different sizes for production of cabinets by United Package Inc., in her hometown of Reedsville.

Like Anhalt, 23-year-old Sheng Moua became deaf before the age of 6 months as a side effect of high fever and measles. She, also, doesn't have a trace of self-pity.

"I know when I am doing good work. My boss likes it that I can work at different jobs and pick out defective objects," said Moua, employed by Holiday House.

The two women communicate through American Sign Language.

Holiday House's Hearing Loss and Deafness Specialist Camille Mornard received Wisconsin Interpreting and Transliterating Assessment certification, testifying to her abilities to serve hearing impaired.

She returned to work at Holiday House in 2001, moving from Milwaukee where she was a middle school interpreter. She had worked at Holiday House from 1990-95.

Caring for a deaf foster daughter nearly 30 years ago motivated her entering the field. Mornard is also a professor at New York Technical Institute for the Deaf.

In 2003, there were 567 individuals who took advantage of different program components at the Holiday House, in the United Way-funded program. In just the first half of this year, 441 individuals were served.

Holiday House's Sensori-Tech Center features equipment for hearing impaired, including assistive listening devices, signaling devices, telephone equipment, as well as printed materials and videotapes.

Anhalt has a TTY, also known as a TTD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) at home.

"People ask how I wake up to get to work on time. I tell them I have a special alarm which flashes a light and shakes my bed," said Anhalt, who started learning sign language while attending Green Bay West High School.

Born in Laos, Moua is also adept at using a TTY. She became proficient in ASL while attending the Wisconsin School for the Deaf in Delavan.

"ASL is a language of concepts as opposed to exact signed English, letter for letter, word for word, which is much slower and takes more energy," explained Mornard. It is based on the French language in terms of sentence structure, with verb at the end and objects at the beginning.

"ASL has no passive voice while English is loaded with passive voice. Many deaf kids, even those graduating today, have a fourth-grade reading level. English is very difficult to learn," Mornard explained.

With the proliferation of closed captioning on TV, required on all sets sold after 1992, many in the deaf community have become, in effect, bi-lingual, knowing both ASL and English.

"We have two people in this room, both highly motivated to work, not defined by their deafness." said Tom Keil, Holiday House's executive director.

Anhalt said she wants to continue working at UPI. "I have a very good boss. I'm always up for learning new skills," she said.

What is in Moua's future?

"I want to stay working here at Holiday House," she signed. "I think this is the best place for me to work. I don't know that I would want to live in a different town, I prefer to live here."

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a weekly series featuring an agency supported by United Way. United Way has begun its annual fund-raising campaign.

Copyright © 2004 Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter