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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

I am 21 years old and I am Deaf

By Kayla-Ann  |   From : Jamaica  |   School : Jupiter High School

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Hi my name is Kayla-Ann Cohen and I am from Jamaica. I am 21 years old and I am Deaf.

I would like to tell you my story, my experience when I came to live in America.

When I was born, I was deaf.   I was the only one that was deaf. I asked my mom why I was deaf and she told me that my father had abused her, hit her and hurt me before I was born. I did not meet my father until I was 15 years old. This made me sad because it was such a long time that we never met but he would call and my older brother would talk for me. He never told me the story about what happened and that made me upset, he acted like everything was alright.

There was no communication at home, no one signed. I felt totally isolated, all my family would talk and I could not hear what they said.   Because of this, I did not have any language until later, I was 11 years old when I finally learned my name. The neighborhood kids made fun of me because I could not talk and my mom was concerned that men would take advantage of me too. I did teach myself to read lips by watching my mom’s body language and her modeling.

The first school I ever went to was in 6th grade. I had to wake up at 5 in the morning and leave at 5:30. I had to take a public bus, two each way. Once I got off the bus I had to walk a far way to get to the school. I did this because I wanted to learn. I learned sign language, it was really cool. When I first started school I saw everyone signing but I did not know the language, I was motivated to learn but when the teacher gave me work, I did not understand it and would always fail. I felt bad. A lot of the teaching and learning was independent. I would fail all tests. I did not learn to read until I came to Florida but I was learning sign language and did communicate in sign.

My mother decided to move to Florida because of opportunity.   My family of 6 moved in with my grandmother. When I arrived here I felt nervous because my mom told me she would find a school for me, but I knew it would be a hearing school and I did not have a hearing aid. My mom told me not to worry, she was right. When I came to Jupiter HS, people signed with me and I cried because I felt relieved.

As soon as I came to Jupiter HS, I got hearing aids, I felt wonderful to hear sound and people talking. I did have hearing aids once before but they broke and it was too expensive to fix. I also had interpreters, closed caption and friends. I really improved with my school work, and I learned about American money, American culture and trained in a work program as well as learning math and reading. I really love my experience living here but I wish my deaf friends from Jamaica could move here too.