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What It's Like To Be Deaf On University Campus

VIDEO [CC] - Deaf News: Students face challenges as Kirsten Pribula talks about her experiences of being Deaf on campus in the United States..

ATHENS, OH -- The Post: At age 23, Kirsten Pribula heard a water sprinkler for the first time. She stood in the middle of College Green for a few minutes trying to preserve the moment and remember the sound.

Pribula lost her hearing between the ages of 3 and 4 due to autoimmune inner ear disease. AIED is a progressive hearing loss condition caused when the immune system attacks the inner ear, according to the American Hearing Research Foundation.

Pribula underwent cochlear implant surgery - a surgery where a device that improves hearing is placed in the inner ear - when she was 8 years old. The surgery allows her to hear partially, but Pribula still relies heavily on lip reading and interpreters, she said.

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In group conversations, Pribula said she often needs an interpreter because it is hard to keep up with the back-and-forth nature of the setting.

“But with one-on-one conversations, I do really well because … I can read lips well,” Pribula said.

Despite the problems she faces because of her hearing loss, she still chose to come to Ohio University. Pribula was also looking at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the only university in the nation designed specifically to eliminate barriers for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, but Gallaudet did not offer Pribula the major she wanted to pursue.

Pribula, a junior studying graphic design, thought she was the only student who is Deaf on campus, but according to Carey Busch, the assistant dean of student accessibility, there are between 15 and 18 students on Ohio University’s Athens campus that are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. The group makes up less than one-tenth of a percent of the campus’ student population.

Although Pribula often feels overlooked by the general student body, there are some offices at OU actively working to accommodate students, who are Deaf, in and out of the classroom... Read The Full Story.
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