The best benefit of teaching is the great students you meet on your journey. One of my former fantastic students, Samantha Voshel, works for Independent Employment Services. She reached out and asked me to write an article for their Facebook page on how to deal with a disability. I wrote this for parents as well as people who have the disability themselves. You can find lots of great support on their website. The picture is one of me as a child happy and not aware I had a hearing loss!
. Jane Biehl was kind enough to share her story with us and we thank you so much for everything you have accomplished in life.
DEALING WITH A DISABILITY
By Jane Biehl PhD
I was asked how I learned to deal with a disability. I don’t use the word “overcome” because all of us with a disability have days we feel everything is under control, and then the days we all fall apart! I call it “moving on.”
I was born with a moderately severe hearing loss, due to my mother having the flu when pregnant with me. The problems I experienced were not from the hearing loss, but rather the way I was treated. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I was bullied, made fun of, and no services were available to help me. I struggled all through school, including college and graduate school, with loneliness and no one understanding what I was going through.
After graduation, I found the Deaf community and other hard of hearing people like me. I joined national groups like the Hearing Loss Association of America and the National Association of the Deaf. I eventually changed careers from a librarian to working with people with disabilities as a rehabilitation counselor. I ended up teaching Deaf Culture and Introduction to Interpreting in a college program. After I was forced to quit teaching due to cancer, I started another a career as a writer.
Things went well until I suffered a profound loss from chemo administered to help my cancer. After that came COVID and mask-wearing which rendered it impossible for me to read lips., I went through a tough depression, until I realized all the technology and help that was out there like live captioning apps, captioned cell phones and my wonderful hearing ear dog who alerts me. It all is still a battle, but I know I am not alone.
The best advice I can give to a parent with a child with a disability, or someone who is experiencing one, is to educate you. Seek out other parents and adults in the same boat and reach out. Search the Internet for reliable information on each disability, including technology apps, computer programs, services from local universities, plus state and national organizations to get assistance. Even for the most severely disabled person unable to communicate by voice, items are available like augmentative devices, which some local colleges sponsor as part of their education programs.
You will continue to have good and bad days, but never give up. Reach out -because among the bullies are people who truly want to help. If you surround yourselves with good and positive people, your life will be much easier and you will make a whole new group of friends!