When I came up with the concept for Hear For The Curls back in December 2016, it was only a hashtag. Yet, two weeks ago, things changed. Before I knew it, a HFTC (Hear For The Curls) blog was launched. What I didn’t realize was how much of an impact it would have. As people began to reach out to me to let me know how happy they were that I created this platform, I noticed how many folks are affected by hearing loss, either directly or indirectly.
The beautiful woman seen in the photo below is Dey. She and I met through Instagram. We came across one another in the curl community that we are both passionate about.
I asked Dey to obtain permission from Sierra so that they could share their story with all of us and so, here we are. They were both very open about the idea and you will see why their story has moved me tremendously.
Sierra and Dey met about 7-8 years ago. Dey was Sierra’s case manager. Dey is a licensed social worker who works with people living with mental illness. At the time that they crossed paths, Sierra was having a difficult time in her life. She was depressed and living with her mom.
Today, Sierra is doing better. She is now living in independent housing for the deaf and is doing well with her illness. She worked as a volunteer at a hospital for some time and now holds a steady job. Dey is no longer her case manager and hasn’t been for several years. Nonetheless, they have remained friends. Dey states that Sierra is a beautiful, motivated person who works hard to accomplish her goals. She also believes that Sierra is very creative and resourceful.
But guess what?
Dey has taken ASL classes and she knows some words and phrases. However, she is not fluent in ASL at all.
How do they communicate?!
Dey and Sierra communicate by texting and by utilizing video phone service (where Sierra sees an interpreter who signs to her what Dey is saying). When they see one another in person, they make sure that they have a notebook in their possession and they communicate by writing back and forth to one another.
Sierra has a cochlear implant and has undergone speech therapy, as well. However, she does not like using the cochlear device because the different sounds overwhelm her. She can read Dey’s lips if Dey faces her and doesn’t speak too quickly. Dey has learned different techniques such as stomping her foot on the floor to get Sierra’s attention. A hearing person might see that as rude. However, it is an acceptable way to get a deaf person’s attention in the deaf culture.
Dey & Sierra met over lunch yesterday to discuss this blog post & what they wanted to share with us here at HFTC. The server at the establishment where they were having lunch asked Sierra for her order. Dey told the server that Sierra was deaf and that she would write down her order. The server then proceeded to speak loudly to confirm the order that Sierra had written down, as if Sierra would hear her. Again, Sierra is completely deaf. Dey and Sierra laughed about the incident. Apparently, this happens often to Sierra. It appears that some are under the false impression that speaking louder to a person who is completely deaf will help.
And so this is why I want Hear For The Curls to be a platform not only for those who are deaf/HOH, but also for their family, friends, teachers, translators, educators etc… Hearing loss affects so many people. I believe that if we somehow come together to share our stories, we will begin to understand that we (hearing & non-hearing) are all the same; we just function a little differently.
Thank you, Dey & Sierra for taking the time to share pieces of yourselves with all of us. You both go down in my book of SHEROES!