Ashlee Rose:Tell us about yourselves
Amanda: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I love photography, ceramics and traveling.
Gil: I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. I love hunting, fishing, running, and being with outdoors with our children.
Ashlee Rose:How old were each of you when diagnosed with a hearing loss? Do you know what caused it? What path did you each go on?
Amanda: My parents found out that I was deaf when I was 6 months old. My mom did sense that something was wrong but the pediatrician brushed it off and didn’t listen to my mom. She put me down for a nap and after a while she started to vacuum without realizing it and then she quickly turned it off so she wouldn’t wake me up but then realized it didn’t wake me up either. She asked my dad to play the saxophone over my crib. He did and I was sleeping soundly. She found an ad in the newspaper for the League for the Hard of Hearing and gave them a call. They gave me hearing aids and immediately put me in speech therapy. My mom did not want to implant me because it was experimental at the time. They encouraged her to teach me how to speak before sign. My mom also put me in mainstream school with an interpreter and notetaker. She always made sure I wasn’t alone and that I was around Deaf kids too.
Gil: I was sick with meningitis at 18 months old. I was in coma for three days and became deaf afterwards too. I had to start all over - learning how to walk, eat/drink and to talk again. They also gave me speech therapy too. I was hard of hearing and was doing very well with hearing aids. I was in mainstream high school but did not have an interpreter or notetaker but did use a lot of tutoring.
Ashlee Rose:How old were you guys when you each received a Cochlear implant and what inspired you guys to seek one?
Amanda (22years old): I took a Deaf History class and the professor put us on a debate team for the Cochlear implant - Pros and Cons. I was on the Pros and learned so much more about it. I thought it was too late for me to get one but I saw that it benefited a lot of Deaf people (after hard work). I was a little anxious about graduating from college and being out in the “hearing world” - especially with work. I am So happy that I got one. It has helped me understand so many people - especially strangers.
Gil(23 years old): My hearing got worse in college and I saw how well Amanda was doing with it- it motivated me to get one for myself. I hated it at first but it was the only thing I had to help me hear better. I went to Johns Hopkins to get it mapped and they did it so much better.
Ashlee Rose:What do you like and do not like about your Cochlear implants/devices?
Both: At first we both hated it - the beeps and the mechanical sounds really bothered us and it was hard for us to get used to it. We love it that we can hear better than our hearing aids and having a remote control makes a huge difference especially in a noisy environment. The bluetooth phone clip helps Gil so much with talking on the phone. Right now, it’s painful to wear implants around children - they like to take it from us and throw it and the screaming and yelling is hard to hear too. We also noticed that when someone puts the water on - it really cancels someone’s voice and we can’t hear well over that.
Ashlee Rose:What are your work experiences? Do you receive accommodations? Any struggles?
Amanda: When I worked at the Census - I was blessed to have a full time staff interpreter and a Videophone. Every Tuesdays we would have ASL lunch in the cafeteria. Having Deaf friends from other parts of the building was a blessing too. It made me feel like I belonged.
Gil: I work at an agency where they don’t allow cell phones and video phones are restricted too. They do provide an interpreter for me sometimes but I do well with my implant and my coworkers are extremely supportive of me.
Ashlee Rose:How did you guys meet?
Amanda and Gil:We both met through a mutual friend at RIT. We met at the very first floor of our dorm building. We were good friends for a whole year before we started dating.
Ashlee Rose:You are parents of three beautiful children! Were you nervous about becoming parents? Did you get devices for home that signals you both when your children needs you?
Amanda and Gil: Thank you! YES, of course we were nervous - thank God for the sonic boom alarm clock with the Crying Signalr device that shakes our bed when the baby cries. The problem with it - sometimes we turn it off during the day and we forget to put it back on at night. It was so devastating for us. We made a promise to never turn it off and just leave it on. We love to be able to hear them calling for us, laughing and crying with our implants. I do worry that we won’t be able to communicate well or that we will be left out but we are taking one day at time.
Ashlee Rose: Do your children know sign language? Are they aware that you two have a hearing loss? Are there any special ways you communicate with each other?
Amanda and Gil:Our daughter gets frustrated when we don’t understand her. She would say “I’m done telling you!” She doesn’t understand we are Deaf sometimes no matter how hard we explain it to her. We have tried to teach them sign language but they don’t see to be that interested in it right now. We are not pushing it right now because we want to make sure they develop their speech in case they like sign language too much.
Ashlee Rose:What advice would you give to parents who have deaf /Hard of hearing, deaf parents and deaf individuals?
Amanda and Gil:Their advice: Do whatever works for YOU. I wish I found more books on reading to them about our Deafness at the beginning and I do wish I could get together with other Deaf parents with CODAS. We live in an area that is far from a lot of things and its harder to get together with other Deafies.
Hearing Impaired single mother and teacher aide at a hearing impaired oral preschool program. An author of "Turn The Lights On, I Cant Hear You".