School can be tough for hard-of-hearing students, but teachers accommodate

Brandon DuBois, junior, stands for the Pledge of Allegiance at the Veteran’s Day assembly. DuBois is completely deaf in one ear and feels that he is treated well at Kentridge High.

Lizzy Wirth

Brandon DuBois, junior, stands for the Pledge of Allegiance at the Veteran’s Day assembly. DuBois is completely deaf in one ear and feels that he is treated well at Kentridge High.

Imagine a world in which you look around and see everyone speaking a language you don’t know. A world in which you’re laughed at for not knowing what is happening around you, where need help. How would you feel?

That’s what life can be like for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Alyssa Walker a senior at Kentridge who is hard of hearing, knows firsthand.

“There are always those people that laughed at me,” she said.

Walker is one of the 360 million people worldwide who have disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“A lot of these people just want to be treated as equal,” she said. “When people treat me differently, it makes me feel insecure and self-conscious.”

Millions of kids each year are laughed at and bullied for being deaf, according to the National Education Association. American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million of their victims. One in seven students in Grades k-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.

“As a freshman I would hide my ears and made it a priority for it to be unknown that I had hearing aids on,” Walker said.  “I was insecure, and people just made it worse for me. They made me scared to actually show who I was.”

Life has been different for Brandon DuBois, junior.

“My treatment here at KR has been great,” said DuBois, who is deaf in his left ear. “I don’t feel any different than any other student here at the school. People don’t treat me differently, and neither do the teachers.  All of the teachers accommodate me by sitting me closer and facing my right ear toward them. I am deaf in my left ear, but I’ve gotten used to it over my life. I was born like this, so I have never felt insecure about it.”

“I remember only two completely deaf students,” Eric Anderson, athletics and activities director, said. “They had a wonderful experience.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides guidelines for how schools deal with deaf students.

“Deaf or hard of hearing students, parents and others are entitled to equal access and an equal opportunity to participate in public school services, programs and activities,” according to the statute.

“It would be the exact same as every kid that goes here,” Anderson said. “We would not deny them the opportunities that any of the KR students have. It’s part of the KR way.”

Profoundly deaf students at KR are rare, Anderson said.

Taeoj Brown, a sophomore at Tyee High School, understands what it’s like to be completely deaf at a hearing high school.

“People treat me weird, and a lot of people are immature about it,” said Brown. “People in the hallway sometimes look at me different and come out of their way to talk to me, which sometimes isn’t bad.”

“Sometimes I wish I could go to an all-deaf school,” Brown said.  “But I like being here. I feel that it makes me a better person. I have a lot of friends here, and the teachers here do a lot to make sure that I understand. They write on paper back and forth with me, and I always have an interpreter with me.”

Walker said that it is tough being deaf in a hearing society.

“As a general society, people aren’t as sympathetic toward deaf,” said Walker.  “There will always be people that will look at us and laugh, but the truth is, we are people; we can communicate, we can laugh, and it’s hard enough time coping into society, and we don’t need those people to bring us down.”

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