What is your educational background?
I was born and raised in central Connecticut. When my parents found out I was Deaf, I received early intervention services and started school through CREC when I was three years old. I moved back to my home district for 2nd grade and was mainstreamed through high school. I had intensive speech therapy services with an FM system and an itinerant teacher. I got accepted to RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences in 2005 and began my bachelors degree in Graphic Design. While I was there, I was exposed to sign language for the first time. I became friends with many Deaf people, and got involved, joining a sorority and other clubs. I decided to pursue an ASL minor my sophomore year. By senior year, I knew my passion for design was not as strong as it was for ASL and the overall Deaf culture. I began working towards my masters in Deaf Education the fall after graduating with my bachelor’s degree, and graduated in Spring 2011.
What accomplishments are you most proud of, as a Deaf individual?
My biggest accomplishments have to be getting into RIT with a scholarship, earning my masters degree in Deaf Education and landing my dream job. It took awhile to get there, but everything I did in between, I’ve learned from and carried with me. Now I focus on my students’ progress and accomplishments every day, and I love what I do.
Also, I have a shop of materials made just for Deaf Ed, you can check it out on instagram at @thekbootique or on TeachersPayTeachers here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/store/kbootique
How did ASL help you reach your goals?
ASL helped me reach goals I never knew I had. Growing up, I always knew I was different, and I spent my entire childhood trying to fit in. I was friendly with a lot of kids, but I never truly belonged to any one group. When I started learning sign language, I started developing a better understanding of my own identity. One thing led to another. I changed my major in college and I found my best friends. Having interpreters at events allowed me to understand everything, instead of making it all up in my head. I teach Deaf and hard of hearing kids every day and am pretty active in the DHH community. ASL gives me the accessibility to live my best life.
What is your all time favorite sign? Why?
My friends will tease and say BUT, because I always have an opinion and different perspective on everything! It’s hard to choose just one sign, as it is a beautiful language. I love animal signs - I love that most of them show some kind of characteristic the animal has.
How has being Deaf/HH helped you in life?
Helen Keller once quoted, “Do not let your obstacles master you, rather you become the master of your obstacles.” This was my high school senior yearbook quote, and it still rings true in so many ways. I feel because of experiences related to being Deaf, some not always good, I’ve learned to be resilient and compassionate toward others. In the last 15 years or so, I’ve met so many amazing Deaf and hard of hearing people from all over the world. The networking opportunities are never-ending in the Deaf community, and ultimately led me to the dream job that I have today.
How do you think technology is helping Deaf kids learn today?
I believe that technology opens up many doors for Deaf children, especially in differentiation. Students are able to complete assignments because they have access to so many different programs and modalities, giving them the tools that work to help them succeed. I think once students are comfortable using technology, they develop a confidence and understanding that technology will go a long way in their lives.
What is some advice you have for young Deaf children?
Don’t be afraid to try new things! Join clubs and after school activities. Regardless of your communication preference, go to an overnight camp that is just for the Deaf and hard of hearing! Going to camp was the highlight of my summers growing up. Being surrounded by other Deaf and hard of hearing kids helped me grow more confident, accepted, and comfortable with who I was.