Guest column: Deaf people deserve to enjoy things, feel included | The Oklahoman

Deaf Awareness Week, Sept. 18-24, is annually celebrated the last full week in September to increase public awareness of deaf culture, heritage and American Sign Language.

I became instantly, profoundly deaf when I was 8 years old. I never felt so alone, even though I was surrounded by family and friends. From birth or whenever people lose hearing, we are deprived from hearing sounds like others do and have to adjust to function effectively in society. 

More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, but less than 10% of parents learn American Sign Language. Unless parents or other family members learn ASL, family gatherings, weddings, picnics and parties can be a very lonely and frustrating experience for deaf people.

I recall my first birthday as a deaf person. They all gathered around me and sang “Happy Birthday,” but I could not hear anything, nor the applause that followed.

I recall when I was about 12 years old having family members come to my house looking solemn. Some were crying. When I tried to ask them what was going on, they just shrugged and patted my head. I later found out that my grandpa died.

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