ASD senior, Jarmal Puryear and ASD occupational therapist, Cheryl Harrington were invited to Trinity College to speak with a group of students studying Ethics in Film. In this freshman seminar, the students watch movies and discuss ethical dilemmas on a personal and societal level.
Students had seen the film, “The Sound & Fury,” a documentary made in 2000 about a deaf family struggling with the decision about whether or not to implant their young child. . . . and how this decision might impact her deaf identity and quality of life.
Trinity Professor Dunlap felt this movie “effectively introduces students to the general issue of disabled vs. differently-abled, and the notion that medical issues always exist in a cultural context.”
Jarmal and Cheryl shared their personal experiences with cochlear implants at very different times of their lives, their different experiences as deaf individuals, and their points of view regarding the film. Jarmal spoke about his experiences and shared his opinions in ASL via an interpreter. ASD was proud!
The Trinity students shared their reflections on the movie and their experiences interacting with deaf individuals. They asked questions about Jarmal’s and Cheryl’s language, social and cultural perspectives. Trinity students’ questions were insightful, probing and respectful. Participants hopefully came away from that class with a better bridge of understanding built between the hearing and deaf worlds we live in.
Below is Jarmal’s story, some of which he shared with Trinity students.
Hi, My name is Jarmal Puryear and I'm a senior at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford. I’m so excited to share my story about Cochlear Implants. You know, many people did not have an easy experience with others about cochlear implants. Each person has their own opinion or own feelings about Cochlear Implants. Now I want to explain growing up with a cochlear Implant. I was born deaf in my right ear. My left ear had little hearing: 20%. How did I find out I was deaf? A nurse tested my ears, then the nurse told my mother about providing Cochlear Implants. Does this mean my Cochlear Implant self can hear as a hearing person?. When I was 2½ years old I got surgery on the right ear side. Then I went to mainstream kindergarten and elementary school. It was not easy to communicate with my teacher and new friends. I hated it when an interpreter was there. When not there, it was hard to understand those in school. I was not used to reading lips. During school time, I was angry or crying. I wasn’t doing well in class because of my struggle. At school, I decided to look for a deaf school. Later, true business, we found a deaf school. My family went and entered me in American School for the Deaf. It was 2006. I was shocked they used sign language. I can't imagine if there were no deaf schools. We would be stuck in a world with nothing new, education or equal rights. I started to learn sign language. It is not easy to learn. I would be frustrated with that kind challenge. My family is hearing. I am the only one who is deaf, but I can speak as well. Not 100%, but I always used sign language more than oral communication with the Cochlear Implant. Big Deaf means I am in deaf school and have other deaf friends, little deaf means I'm part hearing because my family is hearing and I have a few hearing friends. My opinion is that doctors or nurses should not say you should get Cochlear Implant to help communicate better. They should say it's up to you, hearing aid or Cochlear Implant or wait until children decide and pick which one they want. That is my whole true story experience. I care about our deaf community we should be proud of who we are. DEAF Pride!! *