Deafness doesn't hamper volunteerism

Larry Littleton

My profound deafness has never stopped me from participating. In this case, I was the “Point Contact” person at this particular staging area on the island of Kauai during the Japan Tsunami evacuation. Everyone was coming up to me asking me for details. I was sharing any information I received from the Red Cross office, via my iPhone. It was a very different experience to be the Deaf guy with the information, rather than the other way around. It was empowering. It was a real eye opener for the individuals who came up to ask me any questions. Once they realized I was Deaf, and if they wanted current information, they were going to have to speak just a little slower and be a little more patient. It happened just as it should. People spoke more slowly and carefully because they understood that I was lip reading. Everyone wanted to know where the restrooms were! That part was simple. Most of these folks were tourists to Kauai. I was trying to show them the aloha spirit, in spite of the situation. In turn, they were patient with me. I did, however, notice the looks on a few people’s faces. They were actually surprised that a Deaf guy was “in charge.” The experience was empowering for me, and educational for the general public. More power to all us Deaf folks who become Red Cross Volunteers!

Similar Stories