After becoming deaf, I realized that I’d better get an education if I was ever to do anything with my life.
I’m a psychologist. I was a psychology faculty member, and then I became an administrator of the department, then the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. At the time of the presidential search, I was the dean.
At Gallaudet, deafness isn’t an issue. You don’t even think about it. Students can pay attention to accounting or psychology or journalism. But when a deaf person goes to another college, no matter how supportive it is, that person doesn’t get the same access.
There are people who are born deaf and grow up deaf who don’t speak at all, and some of them have told me that they resent a little bit that I do speak. But, you know, I have to be myself. I have to do what I’m comfortable doing.
I’m committed to sign in everything I communicate, but I also speak. I still believe that I reach more people when I do that. I bridge two different cultures and two different worlds, and I think that bridge still needs work.
I grew up outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a little town, and went to a regular high school. I was a… very average student in that high school. Then I joined the Navy, and while I was in the Navy, I was in a motorcycle accident and woke up deaf in a hospital.
I lived for a year in Scotland. British sign language is very different from American.
Differences among deaf people are okay, but we need to recognize those differences and work together.