I am fascinated by people who are faced with physical challenges in life and supersede what most people believe they wouldn’t be capable of. These people push me to do more and help keep me in the mindset that anything really is possible. However, the deaf and hearing impaired are most dear to my heart. As a child, I had to get tubes surgically placed into my ears due to constant ear infections I was getting. As a result of the infections, I was nearly deaf as a child and my parents at first couldn’t figure out why I talked so loud. I remember things sounding like I was underwater. If I was not blessed with that procedure, I most likely would be deaf today. Though, even today I still have trouble with my left ear, it is a blessing. However, I often wonder how my life would be, presently, if I was deaf– like if I would still have accomplished what I have today or maybe even more like the people highlighted in this article.
Growing up I always thought Marlee was a joy to watch on TV and Film. She has only progressed as the years have passed. Considering that she hasn’t had but 20 percent hearing in her left ear and none in her right since the age of 18 months she has made amazing strides. What Marlee wants Marlee will learn, even starting at a very young age. In her youth, she fervidly wanted to have a Bat Mitzvah, so she learned Hebrew phonetically. The Oscar winning actress’s ambition led her to receive a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award along with 6 nominations. She later danced on the show Dancing with the Stars and appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice making it to 2nd place by raising $1,050,000 for The Starkey Hearing Foundation . And Marlee is still “dancing” with her latest project on ABC Family the tv series called Switched at Birth starring as Melody Bledsoe.
Melissa proves with every beat that she is going to “keep dancing” while she cheers for the San Diego Chargers. Though she only has about 15 percent of hearing left, she does also wear a hearing aid in her left, however; she still can’t really hear the music. But that definitely did not stop her from becoming a Charger Girl now in her second season. I watched her story on E! in awe. Melissa was upbeat and positive when she explained how though she can’t hear the music she has brilliantly come up with a system to stay on beat with the other cheerleaders during routines. I was so excited about her that I went further to research her and found that she also owns a marketing and web development company with her husband. As I watched her on E!, all I can remember her saying is that “Even if the music stopped, I would keep dancing.” There is so much in that statement for even those of us that can hear.
Shawn Jackson has also been dancing through life touching people’s lives and making strides. Since the 5th grade he has always had trouble with hearing on and off throughout his life. Later in life around the age of 15 he was diagnosed with a form of Tinnitus where he then started experiencing ringing in his ears. That, of course, made his hearing worse to the point that he pretty much went deaf. By the age of 22, Shawn was profoundly deaf with 5% hearing in his right ear and 0% in his left ear at which he was diagnosed with PD (Profound Deafness). That is when he then started learning ASL (American Sign Language) with the help of loved ones and specialists. Once Shawn was around 30 years old, he had become fluent in ASL enough to teach it, but between that time he candidly told me that he didn’t have the confidence to work certain types of jobs so he worked a lot of service jobs. It wasn’t until he got his Cochlear Implant on Sept. 26, 2006 (by believe it or not Dr. House) that he started gaining the confidence to work the jobs he is currently working today. The procedure worked but he now cannot hear because his sound processor is, at present, broken. However, he is scheduled to get it fixed but in the meantime he uses this as an opportunity to connect more with his fellow hearing impaired individuals. Shawn is very active with the deaf community and also gives private classes to the deaf and hearing impaired and others that are interested in learning. In addition, with this experience he has discovered his passion in writing and is currently a writer for J’Adore Magazine. He also finds his “handicap” as a handy blessing because it has given him a platform to educate others about deafness, the hearing impaired, and what ASL really as it is real language.
This article is also dedicated to my altruistic friend, Valerie Bynum, who has been wearing hearing aids since she was two years of age due to nerve loss because her parents two different blood types called RH Factor. Today she is a brilliant Ophthalmic Technologist helping people with their eyes.
“Just because the music stopped, it doesn’t mean you have to stop dancing.” ~Marika Dye