Magazine article Volta Voices

Equating Deafness with Greatness

Magazine article Volta Voices

Equating Deafness with Greatness

Article excerpt

Please accept my sincere thanks for allowing me to serve as President of AG Bell. As I reflect on my professional career, I first learned about AG Bell while volunteering at the Helen Beebe Speech and Hearing Center as a student at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. A unique practicum assignment in a kindergarten classroom at the March School led me to Robert, a very talkative youngster who just happened to be wearing two body hearing aids in a harness on his chest. This bubbly 6-year-old was my awakening and introduction to hearing loss.

For the rest of my college years I volunteered at the Beebe Center, not truly appreciating what they were doing; but nonetheless, I went to graduate school with the idea that children who were deaf could listen and talk. During graduate school and spending time in a Gainesville, Florida public school classroom and at the state's school for the deaf, my eyes were opened to the range of hearing differences, varied language and literacy skills, and diversity in the speech skills, which later became the focus of my doctoral dissertation.

I truly have been blessed in meeting an immense number of children who are deaf and hard of hearing, along with their dedicated, hard working parents and family members. I have taught-and learned from-hundreds of students in speechlanguage pathology, audiology, education of the deaf through classroom instruction and professional workshops. I am also grateful to my professional colleagues who have shared their knowledge with me. Thanks especially to my friends, peers and colleagues who often knew more than I, but still participated in my workshops.

Through the years, we have journeyed from being criticized and mocked for the "audacity" of thinking that a child who is deaf could listen and talk, to the excitement among professionals who are now eager to learn more about listening and spoken language. The strongest voices come from the children themselves, who can most definitely listen and talk.

I hope and trust that my time as president has been marked by true stewardship of the association and that I have served well as an ambassador for AG Bell. I certainly have gotten around! To be clear, invited talks were not at the expense of AG Bell, and a caveat of acceptance of any speaking opportunity has been the requirement for distributing AG Bell materials and donating any speaker honorarium to AG Bell.

I have been offered the opportunity to speak in Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney and Melbourne, Australia (summer 2012); Antwerp, Belgium, and Amsterdam (Thanksgiving 2012): and Taipei, Taiwan, and Beijing (summer 2013). …

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