Our 14 year old daughter Sophie is deaf in her left ear and hearing impaired in her right ear.
She had perfect hearing until the age of seven when she woke up and discovered she couldn't hear. No cause has been identified. There are no known drugs or treatments available to improve or restore her hearing.
Since that time, Sophie has been a spokeschild for the National Organization for Hearing Research. Sophie gives speeches and represents this organization at fundraisers, school assemblies, with the WNBA & has lobbied in Congress as a private citizen. She has also been featured in a Blue Cross/Blue Shield funded film on hearing impairment. Sophie is a straight A student in a highly competitive middle school and is a standout athlete and singer.
One of her dreams is to go on a cruise for a family vacation; there are seven of us. We are reluctant for several reasons pertaining to access and safety. Sophie can't identify where sounds come from and in some cases, can't hear the sound at all. In an emergency, she might lose valuable time initially because she was unaware that there was a problem. Also, her remaining hearing could be compromised by excessive noise - making her choose to leave a dj setting or even a movie due to the excessive noise levels. Sophie needs captioning to truly enjoy a movie or as a less effective but better than nothing option - an assisted hearing device.
My relatives are enthusiastic cruise goers and have offered to take Sophie with them on the QE2... but until these issues are addressed, Sophie and the rest of our family reluctantly have to stay on shore.
One last item, using a symbol of a wheelchair to designate 'special needs' is troublesome and inappropriate (except for those needing wheelchairs).
Joan and Larry Kaye