Over the past few years, I've developed significant bilateral hearing loss. We're still not sure why or if it's going to get worse. But during this transition to understanding everyone around me to struggling to piece together context clues and pathetic attempts at lip reading, I have learned a few things.
There are an estimated 48 million deaf and hard of hearing people in America. The number of deaf and hard of hearing individuals and people with other disabilities worldwide is equal to the population of China. This does NOT include the number of friends and family including children who travel with us.
When Crisis Text Line, the nation's first free, 24/7, nationwide text line, was founded, it was aimed at teens. It makes sense: teens text a lot, they need emotional support, and, oh yeah, they text a lot. Numbers don't lie: the service has processed over 8 million text messages in just over two years.
Debbie and I had a normal childhood, except that, Debbie was the family's ears and voice. Since the age of four, Debbie interpreted for our parents, translating between spoken English and sign language. Due to the lack of telephone access for the deaf, Debbie often relayed conversations between hearing people and our parents on the telephone before she was old enough to understand what they were saying.
While mainstream media still struggles to integrate diversity into programming, the internet offers a vastly different experience. People around the globe, of all backgrounds and abilities, are uploading original new content every day, smashing boring stereotypes and changing the way we view different cultures.