:: herald-dispatch.com | Sam Yates: Do you hear what I hear? ::

Sam Yates: Do you hear what I hear?

OPINION | Saturday, April, 7, 2007

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March was National Deaf History Month, which celebrates important milestones in deaf culture and history. As far as deaf acceptance and awareness are concerned, American society has grown in leaps and bounds; still, much work needs to be done.

Did you know that more than 7,000 children are born with hearing loss in one or both ears (termed unilateral/bilateral, respectively) every year? In many instances, parents don’t realize that their newborn child has reduced or nonexistent hearing sensations; testing for deafness is not required upon birth in all 50 states. I can testify that it is absolutely vital that this handicap is identified in infancy.

I, and others whom I know, were not made aware of our own deafness until age three or four.

By this time, important developments had already begun, most notably the ability to communicate in an oral manner. Some of my closest friends struggled throughout early development classes and grammar school because they could not master the English language. Such struggles can frustratingly hinder one’s ability to communicate and capacity to learn and excel academically. Luckily, we live in a state with a form of the Walsh Bill (the Newborn and Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 1999) to identify deaf persons while in infancy. Continue

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