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Deafness is challenging but isn’t end of world

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Imagine someone who lives in a world of complete silence for his or her entire life. That world of silence is familiar to me because I am deaf.

Being deaf means I can't hear at all, and I don't speak, either.

What is it like for me in the public schools? Every school day, I have an interpreter who stays with me all day in all my different classes. My interpreter translates everything the teacher has to say into sign language, which is how I communicate. Everything is normal for me. I don't need to have any "special classes" for the deaf.

If my interpreter is absent, my day becomes more difficult, and I have to communicate through writing. The same goes for life out of school. For example, earlier this year, when I went to my first-period class and realized that my interpreter was absent, I had to write a note to explain to my teacher that I needed a note-taker to write down what she was saying. I needed her instructions and directions.

Then, I just sat and was bored to death until I could get some notes from the note-taker and read them to catch up with what the teacher was discussing. Sometimes my teacher doesn't remember to write down the instructions on the board for me. It can be frustrating for me as I could miss either a few minor things or several important things.

When we're watching a movie in class, the TV has closed-captioning, which prints the words on the screen. I don't need an interpreter unless the movie is not closed-captioned.

At school and at home, I act like a normal teenager! I sometimes disobey my parents, and I have a weird personality, like most other teenagers.

I have my own good friends. Some know sign language; some don't. They all are cool, and I talk to them at school. Fortunately, my family knows sign language, so I can talk with them.

In my opinion, I haven't faced a challenge that I can't overcome because I'm deaf. In other words, I have the same challenges as you, and I can overcome them.

Not everything about being deaf is positive. There's a limit that I always have to work around. For example, my friends sometimes talk and leave me out, because they forget to sign what they are saying.

One of the hardest times used to be during lunch, when many of my friends didn't know sign language, so most of the time I sat by myself. But this year my friends have learned more sign language from their level-two American Sign Language class. Now we can communicate a lot more easily than we did last year, and I feel more comfortable sitting with them.

I can't use a cell phone, as I can't speak or hear. But luckily, there is a two-way pager invention that allows me to send e-mails, chat and, in case of an emergency, call home. Only a few years ago, I couldn't do that at all.

Being deaf isn't the end of the world. In fact, it's a silent world that you might almost enjoy. I have been told that many people, at times, wish they didn't have to hear anything. So being deaf doesn't bother me. In fact, I'm proud to be deaf.

MeKenzie Martin is a junior at Bingham High School. If you are a Utah high school student and would like to comment on this article, send an e-mail to pulse@desnews.com or write a letter to the Deseret News, attention: Susan Whitney.