Hello! I was born and raised in White Plains, NY a city approximately 30 minutes north of New York City. My mother contracted Rubella also known as German measles, when she was about 7 months pregnant with me. The doctor warned my parents that it was possible I would have multiple health problems, such as Down’s syndrome, deafness, blindness and even severe heart problems. The doctor suggested that my parents choose to terminate the pregnancy - to abort me. To my parents’ horror and outrage, they were very much against abortion because of their Catholic faith, they decided to switch doctors during my mother’s third trimester. My parents experienced unimaginable stress for the next few months awaiting my birth. As a parent myself, not the circumstances anyone wants to face during a pregnancy, not to mention your first child.
I was born at Phelps Memorial Hospital in North Tarrytown, NY at 4:19 pm on October 29, 1964. My parents were elated when they first saw me! According to my parents and the doctors, I was appeared to be a seemingly healthy and beautiful baby. For the next few months, they monitored me closely and claimed me as a perfect and normal baby.
During my toddler years, I was so incredibly alert and played like any other child. Until one day, my parents took me to a parade. A big fire truck was going by with its sirens blasting and all the other children except me were covering their ears because it was so loud. At that moment, my mom froze because I had always responded to play when someone was in front of me.
At this time, my parent's decided to take me to an audiologist where tests confirmed that I was indeed hearing impaired. My mother was devastated - so devastated that she didn’t want to hear herself. She used ear plugs to muffle sounds for a couple of days. My mom felt so guilty because she could hear and I couldn't.
After dealing with the facts, my mom decided she needed to adjust and provide me with whatever resources would benefit me. She jumped into action and called a placed called The John Tracy Clinic, which was based in California, and enrolled me in speech therapy course via telephone. It was extremely difficult for my parents to find resources, therapy, etc. that would be beneficial for me due to lack of technology back then. Only because of my mom's strong patience and determination, I can lip-read from all sorts of angles. For example, I can lip-read people from my side, which is an incredible talent that most deaf people cannot do. Still to this day, I am forever grateful for my parents’ strong will, love, and devotion not to give up on me.
In 1992, I moved to Florida from New York with my husband. We have been married for 26 years and we have been busy raising our 2 wonderful teenagers – a son named Shane, age 17, and a daughter Ashley who will turn 16 this July.
Currently, I am on the board with an amazing organization named Florida Hands & Voices (FLH&V) for almost 2 years. This organization gives us the opportunity to provide resources and support to parents with deaf/hard of hearing children. We have been working hard to raise awareness about this amazing organization. I am also an Interpreter Intern Coordinator for FLH&V. The board, and I are indebted to those who volunteer their time and efforts to interpret for the deaf, during our meetings. If you are interested in practicing your signing skills or are looking to earn credits for a program or college, please consider Florida Hands & Voices. I enjoy being a part of FLH&V because it gives me the chance to meet so many interesting and amazing people like doctors, audiologists, speech therapists, teachers, sign language interpreters, parents and especially deaf/ hard of hearing children. Last December, I had the privilege of meeting the Co-Founder of Hands & Voices based in Colorado named Janet Des Georges. She is also a part of the national and international staff at Hands & Voices serving as an Executive Director. I was in awe of her motivation and determination to make Hands and Voices a successful non- profit organization. For more information, I encourage you to check out our website at www.flhv.org and read all about FLH&V. Also be sure to check our calendar for our upcoming events such as Silent Saturdays, Signing Stories, and Family Meetings, etc. Hopefully, I will have the chance to meet you at one (or two) of our future events and you can share you story with me. I am excited to be a part of and see FLH&V continue to be an asset to all of our lives!
Barbara A. Keefe
Life of a Deaf Socialite
Hi, My name is Ann Marie. I was born on May 3, 1975. I was raised in Indiana. I attended Indiana School For The Deaf from 1979 to 1989. I have grown