Deaf From a Different Perspective

Deaf+From+a+Different+Perspective

Ed Bolden

Life is full of unexpected challenges and obstacles that we fight and battle every single day. But for some, these challenges are significant.  Think of being a deaf person — not being able to hear the world around. Some people actually view the deaf as disabled and inept. However, being deaf is not a disability, it is a challenge that all deaf people must overcome. Setbacks are a part of life for everyone but for Mrs. Waldock (A deaf American Sign Language teacher here at West and coach, she has shown nothing but perseverance and strength throughout her life.  

“Coaching was never really a choice for me; I had never given much thought to it”, says Mrs. Waldock. However, one day as Mrs. Waldock was teaching her students American Sign Language (ASL)  she was approached by Colerain High School’s Athletic Director, Craig Ulland. Colerain needed a soccer coach, and with her background playing D1 Soccer at South Carolina and later transferring to Purdue, winning 3 gold medals with the Olympic team, and being a part of the US National women’s team, she seemed a perfect fit.  This was despite the fact that having a deaf coach for a hearing team is practically unheard of. People would never expect a deaf person to be a coach of a hearing team because it would be too difficult to communicate with the players. Proving people wrong her whole life, Mrs. Waldock broke down the barrier and now loves coaching.  

“It’s hard for people to understand me but I just try to break the ice and tell them it’s okay if you don’t understand me. I will never get mad at you for that; I will do everything in my power to help you out and make sure you can understand me! Some of my soccer girls have even taken up ASL to try and help me out and got clear mask’s so I can read their lips better.” 

Another benefit to coaching — it has brought Mrs. Waldock out of her shell and pushed her out of her comfort zone. When people couldn’t understand her, she used soccer to express herself and it took her really far in life.

If you thought going to different countries where you don’t know the language or culture is scary for hearing people, imagine being deaf! Going out of the United States for the first time, was nerve-wracking for her.  Mrs. Waldock had the chance to travel around the world to 14 different countries and take in all the different cultures. “I’ve played on the U.S. Women’s national deaf team, and played on many different teams in several foreign countries”. Through these experiences, she has experienced first hand the common mistakes people of many different cultures make about the deaf. For example, Mrs. Waldock states others assume that all deaf people can read lips and understand what others are trying to tell them but in reality, they can’t. Some deaf people can read lips but a majority of them can’t and it frustrates them when people assume they can read lips. Opening people’s eyes, or rather, ears, to realize that deaf people are no different than hearing people except for speaking a different language is one of the biggest things she wants people to realize. 

Mrs. Waldock is very patient and wants to help people to understand her. She even told us that her husband is hearing and he doesn’t sign. That doesn’t change the amount of love they have for each other. Language is no barrier that can keep them apart. 

Mrs. Waldock hopes that one day, everyone will understand ASL and realize there is much more that lies beneath the surface of a deaf person. Being deaf has allowed her to understand that people have difficulties in life and no one should be judged for that. “Honestly being deaf has made me work harder! I think that if I was hearing I probably wouldn’t have worked as hard and I wouldn’t be where I am today. I worked harder to show everyone I deserved to be here and I’m good enough!”