Students Find Help in FHN’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program

Hearing is something many people take for granted in their daily lives. How most people learn and communicate is done through hearing and speech. Freshman Jupiter Colley, who was born deaf, had to learn to adapt to a world where the sense of hearing is ingrained in everything. 

“At first it changed how people viewed me, and it was harder to communicate,” Colley said through interpreter Dan Smith. “I had to be more focused on things since I couldn’t hear what people were saying, and it’s harder than hearing people out.”

 For Colley, interpreters like Smith help communication between deaf and non-deaf students and staff occur. Smith is employed by the district, as with all interpreters that service FHN. 

“[I] facilitate communication between students and staff,” interpreter Thomas Skinner said. “Whoever the deaf student would be talking to. I’ve been interpreting for [Jupiter] since they started school at North.” 

Deaf students also go through FHSD’s deaf program. The deaf program was made to help deaf students navigate through school. Depending on the student, the district may also give the them an interpreter. The district also works to have deaf students together in one school, rather than having deaf students separated into different schools. FHN serves as the high school most students in the district attend.

“The deaf program has been developed to develop social relationships between the deaf and hard of hearing students to help them socialize within their own groups,” Skinner said. “Normally, in the mainstream setting, the deaf student may be in the school by themselves, but our deaf programs make hubs where we group them into a centralized program.”

Outside of the classroom, Colley participates in student council, art club and gender sexuality alliance. People describe them positively, and enjoy their company. 

“I think that [Jupiter] is really creative, funny, and naturally talented,” art club sponsor Denise Maples said. “I got to see a side of Jupiter that I didn’t see in the classroom, which is really cool.”

As a Freshman, Colley has yet to experience much of FHN. However, they say that the community at FHN has been welcoming, not facing much adversity. Colley believes that people can still do more to welcome hard of hearing students and accommodate them.

“Deaf people are the same as hearing people,” Colley said. “If I don’t understand, don’t ignore it. Don’t just act like you ignore it, and not put the effort forward to communicate.”