Part 2 of the series focuses on issues in the Hard of Hearing Community here on Guam. We also focus on some progress being made for the community on Guam.
Guam – Many people may not know that there is a difference between deaf and hard of hearing. In the second part of a two-part series, PNC sat down members of the hard of hearing community to raise awareness on some of the issues they face.
While the community is united, the issues they face are not the same. The hard of hearing community on Guam is, much like the deaf community, loud and proud. But certain accommodations made for deaf individuals, such as American Sign Language interpreters, may not work for hard of hearing individuals. Shiran and Lirone Veksler, both members of the hard of hearing community, explain some of the specific issues facing hard of hearing individuals. Shiran says that often times, hard of hearing individuals are offered interpreters, but hard of hearing individuals may only be able to read lips, not sign language. For example, Shiran says, if the teacher isn’t facing forward, it is difficult for a hard of hearing individual to read the teacher’s lips.
“And you just need everyone to stay put. If they don’t provide that, you’re probably going to fail the class or choose to drop out of the class,” said Shiran
“but not every teacher likes to follow that, they just like walk around and then we don’t pass the class and they tell us why cant you pass the class and we try to explain them, what we tried telling them in the beginning that we cant understand you, that’s why you’re giving us a bad grade, its not fair.” Said Lirone
But Shiran and Lirone face a unique problem. The sisters have been able, through speech therapy, to speak very good english. Sometimes, Shiran says, teachers hear her speak and don’t take her need for accommodations seriously.
“When I tell them i need their accommodations they say ‘sure’ and then they don’t provide it and when i remind them they [say] ‘sure but you’re doing so well,’ I’m really not out,” said Shiran
While the sisters explain the hardships they’ve faced growing up, Shiran and Lirone also say there is progress on Guam for the hard of hearing community.
“Every year for two to three month’s a year there’s a deaf program, people from Washington DC, there’s an oasis empowerment center for the deaf camp, it teaches adults for sign language and it teaches children for sign language which is very helpful for the community.,” said Shiran
It brings people together all the hard of hearing all the deaf and even the hearing people brings all together all learning about the culture of the deaf world,” said Lirone
Shiran does have a message for anyone who wants to be involved.
“Sign language is one of the easiest and fun, it’s an extremely amazing language to learn and it doesn’t disbenefit you, only positive things come from it. So we can help everybody with learning sign language and being apart of other communities instead of just picking up their ears and listening to every noise that come across, enjoy the peace. Be deaf for a day you’d be surprised at how peaceful that is,” said Shiran