Brenda Schmidt, Plainfield Schools District #202

I was raised orally in a hearing family. My hearing loss has progressed from moderate to severe / profound levels. I was not fitted with my first hearing aid until age seven. Hearing my footsteps is my first memory after receiving a hearing aid. In my family, we accommodated my hearing loss as best as possible, with little concern for my hearing loss and needs.

My family moved repeatedly due to my father’s job promotions. As a result, I was educated in the mainstream without real support because my family was unaware that help was available for students with hearing impairments. I was an extremely hard worker and entered college with plans to discover a major.

My hearing loss had a great impact on my career decision. I considered majoring in audiology or speech pathology, however, my love of children led me to major in deaf education. During my studies, a whole new world and identity opened up for me. I came to understand my own hearing loss and needs and learned how to help others with hearing loss. I now use two hearing aids as well as various assistive listening devices. Learning sign language came naturally to me, although I still choose to use my oral skills with sign language when needed.

I have taught deaf/hard of hearing children for 19 years, working in both self-contained classroom and itinerant settings. I really love both positions. As an itinerant teacher, I feel I touch more lives than I do within a self-contained setting. Many parents have shared that I am an inspiration to them….. they see that their children will be okay when they grow up. I can inspire my students, too. They know I have had similar experiences and can truly understand what they face on a daily basis.

The staff that I work with is extremely understanding of my hearing loss, and they provide accommodations as requested. Because I chose a field which embraces hearing loss, I have had few barriers to overcome. As an itinerant teacher, I am accustomed to educating others about hearing loss and needs. I never tire of teaching. Each day brings new experiences, and I look forward to them all.

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