Deaf Culture Day: Student panel discusses deaf life


Panelists present as a part of Deaf Culture Day A-block. Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff.

The Newtonite

by Connor Vasu

“We’re deaf, you’re hearing. Who cares? We’re all human,” said senior Naod Getachew, who spoke today as a part of a student panel for Deaf Culture Day A-block in the auditorium.

The panel was made up of seniors James Beltz, Getachew, Jamison Smith, and sophomore Kristi Monahon, and was hosted by junior Noah Blankenship. The panel members discussed challenges and pride associated with being a part of the deaf community.

Smith said the best part about being deaf is that deaf people can communicate in situations where hearing people cannot. “Signing is so much easier because we don’t have to yell across the room.”

The panel mentioned some difficulties with being deaf as well. Monahon said that bullying in middle school was “horrible, but people in high school are much more understanding. Many times people try to talk behind my back but I can still hear them.”

Blankenship said that sometimes hearing people will give up trying to talk to him. “This frustrating communication breakdown is the biggest challenge to being deaf.”

Smith added, “We’re not less than you. We’re going to class, getting our driver’s license, and going to college just like you.”

However, even though there are some difficulties associated with being deaf, the panelists stressed that they would not take a magic pill to suddenly make them hear if they could.

“I was born deaf, I’m proud of it…it’s who I am,” said Getachew.

Blankenship added, “Deafness is part of who I am. We love our identity, and we’re just thankful for the opportunity to be here.”

Finally, the panelists discussed the age-old question of whether deaf people can hear music.

Monahon said that if she turns the volume up loudly, she can hear. “I can hear loud beats, but I don’t understand what they are saying.”

Blankenship added that if any audience member ever comes to an event with deaf people, bring your earbuds. “The music will be deafening.”