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Audrey Semprun, 01 Sep '14

Bridging the Gap

When I took my eleven year old daughter to the Arizona State School for the Deaf and the Blind I had a lot of hopes and dreams for her. My greatest aspiration though, was that she ‘bridge the gap’ between the deaf and the blind. And why shouldn’t she? She was hearing impaired, but not deaf and she had enough empathy and compassion to do just that.

Stacie did bridge the gap. She was the eyes for her visually impaired friends, and the ears for the profoundly deaf. Today I had the privilege to see the fruit of my dreams manifest as I dropped my now completely deaf herself, daughter off to visit with a longtime friend from way back when. Way back to their High School days at ASDB. He was so happy to ‘see’ her, and his sign language made my heart smile. He was prolific at American Sign Language.

Stacie’s friend, Michael is legally blind, but he has enough vision to be able to ‘see’ enough to make his own dreams and aspirations a reality. Michael by trade is a construction worker. In our brief conversation he told me how his father taught him his trade, and also how hard it has been to rise above the ‘stigma’ of having graduated from a school for the deaf and the blind. Michael shared how he just landed a position as a project manager in New York! He told me that he had gone on for a higher education in being a Computer technician, but never used the degree. His heart was in the carpentry trade that he had learned from his dad.

“We had a good time in school,” Michael told me. “I didn’t want to be secluded in the ‘blind’ department. I wanted to bridge the gap.” His very words, honest.

His hard of hearing friend was standing there. “I don’t know sign language he told me.” I finger-spelled my name to him. “Oh”, he said. “I can finger-spell, but otherwise, I only know this,” he stated and made a gesture that was foreign to me.

“What’s that mean?” I asked, as I tried my hand at mimicking his ‘handi-work’.

“Bull-shit.” Was his reply.

“Oh!” I said, a little taken back. But not to be out-done I stated with a smile and a hand sign, “I know Jesus.”