Ashlee Rose: Tell us about yourself, hobbies, marriage life, anything you want to share about yourself.
Alexandra: I am currently a software designer for IBM and I am on the board of the AIGA Raleigh as the Director of Inclusive Design. I recently received my Master’s from NCSU College of Design where my thesis project focused on designs for a smart user interface for Cochlear Implants. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina with my husband and two rescue dogs. My professional website is: http://alexandradeangrossi.com/
Ashlee Rose:How old were you when you were diagnosed with a hearing loss? What causes it if known?
Alexandra:I was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at almost two years old. The doctors do not know what caused it. I had a complicated birth with a twin sister who died at 3 days old. We suffered from Twin-twin transfusion disorder and I suspect this played a part in my hearing loss.
Ashlee Rose:What approach did your parents take?
Alexandra: My parents didn’t know a single deaf person when they found out that I was profoundly deaf so they went into deep researching mode. They visited schools for the deaf, talked to teachers, speech pathologists, and many doctors. It wasn’t until they met a young orally deaf man who was enrolled at Harvard that they were inspired to put me on the same path he went. He was smart, charming and spoke with such confidence, that they realized that I could achieve anything I wanted to. From then on it was a matter of finding the right teachers and speech therapists who would help me thrive.
Ashlee Rose: When did you understand that you have a hearing loss?
Alexandra: For as long as I can remember, I understood that I had a hearing loss. I remember working on speech drills with my dad when I was about 3 years old. Being mainstreamed, I compared myself to mostly hearing kids and I realized then that I will always have to work harder than my hearing peers to communicate.
Ashlee Rose:Have you met any other deaf individuals while growing up?
Alexandra:While I started speech therapy when I was around 2 and a half years old, it wasn’t until I was in elementary school that I met deaf kids like me. There was an orally deaf program embedded in a public school, and my parents moved to this district so that I could enroll there. This is where I met my best friend Ashlee who was also in the same program. Our friendship was an important one during my childhood. I loved my hearing friends, but I found it invaluable to have a friend who was going through the same things as I was.
Ashlee Rose:What devices do you have?( What inspired you to get a second cochlear implant?)
Alexandra:I grew up wearing bilateral high powered hearing aids and using an FM system while in classes. Then when I was 16, having a cochlear implant became a possibility and I decided to switch from two hearing aids to one cochlear implant because that’s what my insurance company would cover at the time. Finally, when I was in my 30s I decided I really wanted to be able to have bilateral hearing again. I had to jump through hoops to get an insurance company to cover my second surgery, but I finally did it and I’m really glad to be a bionic woman in “stereo!”
Ashlee Rose:What do you do when you meet a hearing individual- when you go shopping, at a gathering or job interviews?
Alexandra: With hearing friends and family members I know well, I usually don’t think twice about tough hearing situations because they understand I need to read lips, and I feel comfortable asking them to repeat themselves. Large groups can be challenging, I prefer being in smaller groups or meeting people individually. With new friends, I will try to orchestrate our early get-togethers in a quiet setting until I am more comfortable with them.
Job interviews can be tricky since I am trying to show my most capable side. Usually, interviews are one-on-one in a quiet office, which is actually the perfect setting for me. However, my last job interview included a video conference call to go over my portfolio. In that case, I tried to talk through everything as clearly and thoroughly as possible to reduce the number of questions asked at the end. It was nerve-wracking, but I got the job after all!
Ashlee Rose: Do you get accommodations for your job? Any struggles?
Alexandra:As a software designer I work with designers and developers who are located all over the world, this means I have a lot of video conference calls with people who possess many different accents over often spotty internet with not great video quality. Early in my job, I was afraid of coming across as less-than-capable so I struggled for the first few months. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I asked for accommodations and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was not the only deaf IBMer. I was given a choice of a live captioner or an ASL translator. Since I never learned ASL, I went with the captioner and it has made my daily work life so much better.
Ashlee Rose: Tell us about what you do for work, project anything you want to share?
Alexandra: I consider myself an Inclusive Design activist, and I am passionate about giving a voice to users who are usually treated as “outliers.” I strongly believe that designing a more inclusive world benefits everybody. A project close to my heart is work that I have done on IDATA, an NSF grant-funded project that uses User-Centered Design to make astronomy and astronomy software accessible to Blind and Visually Impaired students.
At IBM I work on a product within the Hybrid Cloud called the Transformation Advisor. It adds code to old apps that allows the apps to be “modernized” and transported from physical servers to the cloud. IBM understands the importance of good design and I really appreciate their commitment to accessibility.
Ashlee Rose: Any advice you want to share with parents who have deaf/ hard of hearing children or deaf individuals?
Alexandra: To those raising or working with deaf kids: Don’t underestimate us, we are capable of achieving amazing things. However, we need your patience and your compassion — please recognize that we will always have to work harder than our hearing peers to do the same things.
Alexandra:To my D/deaf HOH brothers and sisters: Never be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You always deserve to understand what’s being said and your voice should always be heard.
I love to write.
(Scene:Two nights ago,it rained. My daughter and I was in my bedroom. I finished my shower, combed my hair and I placed my hand to close the sliding door curtains. I saw the rain. I was delayed because of my deaf ears. My daughter already knew it was raining. )
In the house, all doors are closed.
A daughter can hear the rain. Her mother cannot.
Her mother can see the rain. She cannot.
The daughter relies on her ears.
Sounds of her hearing world.
Her mother relies on her eyes.
Sights of her deaf world.
(She can see but did not see the rain under street light, I could because of several years observing with my own eyes and relying on my eyes).
This leads me to write soulfully.
I am a very passionate person. I always love helping people. I have been on a bridge between hearing and silent worlds, I know what it is like to be deaf.
I love working with children. I absolutely love being a mother to my daughter. I have been parenting since 2008. All stages, triumphs and difficulties. I know what it is like to be a parent
I write to share my experiences - deafness and parenting. Just because I sell Deaf Awareness t shirts, it is not a competitive style to other T-shirt companies. The importance of my business is Deaf awareness, knowledge, education and comfort. To give you hope. To make you feel inspired. To let you know you are not alone. Now, while continuing my personal blogs; I am announcing that I’ll be posting my blog interviews with deaf and hard of hearing individuals and parents of deaf and hard of hearing children to inspire each other and bring our community closer!
2019 is here. What does it mean? What is everyone doing? New Years Resolutions. This time frame is where everyone is setting their own personal goals to improve themselves and their lives. While I was growing up, my mother had us all write our own personal goals and we read our goals to each other. My mother would read our personal goals from the previous year to list our accomplishments. Of course, there were a few that we did not get to accomplished. And that is okay.
Throughout the year, I constantly check my goals and review them- my journals helps me to stay on track and even make some adjustments. I no longer have just my own personal goals. I also have parenting goals. I feel it is important to me to help my daughter achieve her own goals. She does not have personal goals. She has a lot of love for life, I want her to stay joyful, grow, learn, and discover new things. As a parent, it is important to help her with a routine, academics, social, health and well being. Do you have a child? You can set goals as a parent to help them and guide them along the way to finish off their school year nicely and start a new school grade. Advocate for their needs. Strengthen to work on their needs. I also have set another day of a week- on Wednesdays, we have a girls night- three generations: my mother, daughter and I to have dinner and chat. I decided to do another day of week just her and I to do something special to keep that bond strong since I am getting busy with my full time day job and running a business full time as well. I want her to be able to have extracurricular activities and more friends to come over or even a sleep over.(Fill up my cup, please? Coffee) . We will unlock our dreams and fly to discover what 2019 will bring us.
Also, I have been crazy busy being a full time teachers aide, running a business full time, full time single mother that there are not enough hours during the day. Right? Guilty moment, my daughter is an only child and can be very energetic. Recently, she asked me to do things with her. Right at that moment. We as a parent would say no most of the times right? Because we are busy cleaning, organizing and doing something at that moment. Instead, I have been saying "yes" right at that moment. Turned off the sink faucet when I was in middle of washing dishes. We danced. We did yoga. She actually did three different scavenger hunts. When she was ready, I was ready. It was actually a lot of fun. I read somewhere online last year that a mother tried this method, from "no" to "yes". I missed a lot of enjoyment because I would be too late by the time I was ready, we debated or argued and we can be stubborn of our time -I am not ready when she is or I am ready when she is not ready "Wait for 7 minutes?" "30 minutes". I am the discipline mother playing the two roles due to single motherhood. I was shocked how much a difference it was to say "yes" and our relationship, myself and my daughter's . Surprisingly, we haven't been stubborn of our time, I have asked her to do something with me and she did with an interest and a positive attitude. Of course, there are things I will say "no" to certain and inappropriate things! I am willing to drop my laundry basket of clean clothes that needs to be folded to do things with my daughter when she ask me at that moment to do something with her. Because I will not have much time with her when she will be busy with her social life growing up.
Here are lovely quotes to use for your goals throughout the year-
Set for your goal, be ambitious. Do what you dream, unlock your wishes. - Aaron David
Unlock your dreams, set them free to fly- Bernard Kelvin Clive
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today- Mother Theresa
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step- Chinese Proverb.
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. -C.S. Lewis.
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".