What are some things that pop up into your head when you hear the word deaf?
For most people, they think of those who don’t have the ability to hear, talk,but use their hands to communicate.This may or may not be true.
Fernando Aguilar and Marbella Franco are two of the many deaf students here at Waukegan High School. They both share frustrations of how the world views them do to their hearing.They are the only deaf children in their families. Yet, Marbella and Fernando are very successful students with good grades. Fernando uses an FM Listening System (FMLS) for his classes. The FMLS allows teachers to talk into a handheld microphone, which then transmits the sound of the teacher’s voice directly to a deaf or hard-of-hearing child’s hearing aid. Fernando remarks, “Don’t ever say HEARING IMPAIRED!”
On the other hand, Marbella uses a sign language interpreter for her classes.“I’m proud to be deaf, it has made me who I am. I am proud of my culture,” Marbella said. Marbella is unsure of when she lost her hearing. She does know she lost it due to a high fever at a young age. Fernando was born with Meningitis. He lost some of his hair cells in his Cochlea which is inside of his ears. Both their first language was verbal. Marbella knows some Spanish and English. She didnt learn sign language until she was in third grade but now she knows it very well. Fernando on the other hand, speaks fluently in both Spanish and English and is now learning sign language. Growing up as deaf children, both felt very overwhelmed and alone. “I was bullied as a child just because I was different.” Fernando recalls feeling pessimistic because people just didn’t understand. “I felt scared and confused. I never understood what was going on. Yes, I have sometimes wished that I could hear. I would be able to talk to my hearing friends and wouldn’t feel so left out,” Marbella signs.
Fernando prefers to be deaf. “I don’t want to be hearing. Why would I want something I never had? I don’t know what it’s like, therefore I don’t know what I’m missing out on.”
They both feel accepted by their peers, “If you don’t accept yourself, it’ll be hard for others to accept you. If you accept who you are, it’s much easier,” Fernando states. Marbella has many friends both deaf and hearing. She fits in pretty well. She’s fun to be with and gets along with everyone. “I feel kind of different sometimes, but in a good way,” Marbella lightly shrugs. Fernando has many friends as well and has acquired a few new deaf friends. “I don’t feel different, I feel like everyone else,” said Fernando.
Both students do have something for all you hearing folks, that they wish for you to know. Marbella signs excitedly, “Ah! Learn how to communicate with me.”
Marbella and Fernando are two people who cannot be stopped. Marbella wishes to go to college after she graduates, she is unsure where. “Hell yeah I have goals!” Fernando jabs his thumb at his chest, “You tell me I can’t, I say watch me.” Fernando feels he can do anything he put his mind to. Like Marbella, he doesn’t let the fact that he is deaf, stop him. Why should it? “I am too positive to be doubtful. Too optimistic to be fearful. And too determined to be defeated,” is a favorite quote of Fernando’s that inspires him to work as hard as he can.
Although they have the frustrations of the hearing world, they won’t let these stop them from being proud of their culture. That is definitely Deaf Power.