The story of my sister and our unbreakable bond.
The day I was born, I already had a #1 fan. My sister Jennifer was my A1-Day 1. She was only 3 years old at the time and loves telling me the story of the day I was born.
Part of the reason she was so excited was because she knew she would have a friend for life and life wouldn’t be so lonely. The reason my sister felt so isolated was because she was born deaf and was nonverbal until the age of 8. She felt cast aside, ignored, looked over, and looked through.
From an extremely young age, I felt a tremendous responsibility to help my sister navigate the world.
My sister and I developed our secret language. One of my biggest roles as her partner in crime was to play the role of an eavesdropper. Full disclosure…
I perfected the art of listening with my ears and not my eyes.
The first school I attended was preschool at a school for the deaf that I attended with my sister. It was the happiest time of our life and the source of some ridiculous stories. Like my sisters obsession with this crushed old lady hat that she felt she had exclusive rights to and would clobber anyone who dared to use it.
At Willie Ross, I learned ASL and according to my sister I was a savant and everyone was in awe of the speed at which I signed. As you can tell by this photo I was born to lead.
Did you notice the large briefcase behind me? Yep, that clunker 💼 was mine. I remember asking my mom why I had a briefcase and why was it so big. She laughed and lovingly said I didn’t want any of your artwork to get wrinkled. 🤣
The reason I’m sharing all of this is that despite all of this my sister sheepishly reminded me that September is Deaf Awareness Month. I was mortified that I had forgotten and I profusely apologized to her and vowed to be a better ally and advocate.
I recently realized how a lot of my content wasn’t ADA compliant, and although I’m not at the place I’d like to be. All of my live workshops have closed captioning and thanks to Erin Perkins I’m learning how to have my materials accessible.
It’s something that I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t do and I wanted to bring awareness to this.
Accessibility shouldn’t be treated as an option.
It’s the law and while I don’t expect anyone to make major changes overnight I’d like you to think about one thing you can start doing today to be more inclusive and accessible.
This is why I do the work that I do. I advocate for the marginalized because we’re discouraged to succeed and have so many obstacles to overcome. It can be exhausting and makes giving in and giving up feel like the only option.
I am always going to be that person cheering you on from the sidelines.