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Deaf awareness panelists describe discrimination, quest for acceptance

Deaf awareness panelists describe discrimination, quest for acceptance

By Jennifer Flores

November 3, 2011

The first observation of Deaf Awareness Week on this campus began with a
panel discussion exploring the obstacles faced by people who are deaf and
hard of hearing.

Hosted by the American Sign Language department, “Deaf People in a Hearing
World,” featured current and former Alamo College students Oct. 19 in Room
218 A and B of the nursing complex.

Instructor Brain Barwise led the discussion with questions focused on family
background, experiences and education background.

ASL Chair Laura Metcalf and Instructor Tom Cox were the English interpreters
for those unfamiliar with ASL.

A majority of the panelists had family members who were deaf from birth.

Nancy Cantu was the first person in her family to become deaf. She was born
hearing, but at the age of 3, after a bout of meningitis lost her hearing.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the brain and
the spinal column.

The brain is close to the ears, and at times, the inner ear also can become
inflamed, which can result in deafness.

Nancy Slasor also was born hearing but had a family history of hearing loss.

She suffered from hearing loss, high fevers and her hearing worsened at the
age of 7, but she didn’t realize she was deaf until she was 14.

Ivin Guajardo was born deaf, but his parents did not realize it until he was

John Mark Raymond, Vlad Hariton, Sara Filippone and Laura Kowalik were all
born deaf and have relatives that are deaf.

All of them said they had trouble communicating in school, which led to

Raymond spoke about how in elementary school he had to wear a box on his
chest that made him sound like a robot and went through a lot of speech

In middle school and high school, signing became easier for him.

Many of the panelists attended Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., a
college for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The school offers programs for elementary, middle, high school and college

Discrimination was another shared hardship the panelists had to face.

Kowalik talked about how the University of North Texas rejected her
application to the speech therapy program because she was deaf.

“I wish people accepted deaf people and their language,” Raymond said.

In the ASL program at this college, many of them shared how they were able
to learn more about their culture and background.

They enjoy that there are people here whom they can interact with.

“People here will be our connection to the community,” Slasor said.



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