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Beyond Silence

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Beyond Silence

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  Band major Katelyn Keeley, 12, is deaf. She has spent her last four years at LVA as a disabled musician and a hard working student. Despite all the obstacles that come along with being disabled Katelyn hasn’t let any of them affect her when going through her everyday life.

  When Katelyn was 3 years old, she injured her head twice. Her first injury took place under a table at a Mini Grand Prix.  As she stood up, a nail that was sticking out of the table snatched on the back of her head resulting in Katelyn getting stitches. The second time, Katelyn was playing with her aunt’s massive dog. When the dog jumped up to play with Katelyn, she tumbled backwards onto the concrete splitting open the back of her head. These head traumas may or may not have been the cause to Katelyn’s deafness. The doctors have told her and her parents that it could have been genetic or her head traumas, but no one knows for sure.

  Katelyn received two hearing aids for both her ears when she was 3. Shortly after receiving her hearing aids, Katelyn’s parents decided to put her in Speech Therapy. Katelyn also went through a program called Mainstreaming. This is when they put abled and disabled kids together in a classroom. “This can be really harmful because the purpose is essentially to teach disabled kids how to act as abled as possible,” said Katelyn.

  Since middle school band, Katelyn still has trouble hearing the higher notes including the sound of the dismissal bell. “All sound is vibrations,” Katelyn said, “so I can feel it before I necessarily hear it.” To play the clarinet she focuses on feeling the vibrations that come from her instrument and the rest of the band.

  In order to communicate, Katelyn has learned to read lips when talking to people. In a classroom setting when the teacher is not talking directly to Katelyn, she runs the risks of being left behind and not knowing what is going on. So watching a video in class without the subtitles on, class presentations and anything that isn’t one on one can be very difficult for her. But, Katelyn does have a transcriber. Her transcriber comes to class with Katelyn on even weeks and sits in class and types everything she hears. This, in turn, shows up on Katelyn’s computer so she can read what the class is talking about to prevent getting left behind. On days when her in-class transcriber is not with her, Katelyn can Skype call a transcriber. While the teacher wears a little microphone on his/her lanyard, the audio goes straight to the transcriber, who will type everything they hear for Katelyn.

  Katelyn feels there should be more education for the deaf community and that people with disabilities shouldn’t be taught to hide it like she had been taught in elementary and middle school.

  Katelyn said, “I hope me telling my story will prompt others to learn a little more about disabled communities and raises awareness about us.”

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Beyond Silence