Rachel Dubin’s Story

February 16th, 2011 by | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Just over 23 years ago, when my parents first learned about my deafness diagnosis, my maternal grandfather who was a principle at a prestigious private school, immediately contacted a family of his student who was deaf.  This family became our very first connection.  While this child, Rachel Dubin, who was 11 at the time, had severe to profound hearing loss, she still wore hearing aids and learned to lipread successfully and also speak.  When she suddenly became deaf at the age of five years old, her parents spoke to my grandfather about their concerns about whether Rachel could succeed at his school or not.  My grandfather said, “She can still come to the school.  Let’s see how she can do.  If it works out well, great.  If it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t.” She attended the same prestigious private school from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade and was very successful academically.

Rachel Dubin at 11 years old and Rachel Chaikof at few months old.

My parents and I met with Rachel and her parents shortly after my diagnosis.  Rachel’s mother, Esther, became my mom’s mentor as she guided my parents to go with the oral approach so that I could be an independent person and also have more opportunities in life like Rachel.  She also informed my mom about Alexander Graham Bell Association, Helen Beebe Center and the Auditory-Verbal Approach.  In the early years, during my parents’ and my visits to my grandparents’ in Baltimore, we met with Rachel and her family in person.

About 13 years later, Rachel’s parents visited me in Atlanta for my Bat Mitzvah.  When they saw that I was doing successfully with my cochlear implant, as I was speaking naturally, hearing without the use of lipreading and also reading the Torah in Hebrew, not only Esther was in tears, but also she and her husband became convinced to talk to Rachel about considering in getting cochlear implants, who was 24 at the time and was still wearing hearing aids.

About a year later, Rachel received her first cochlear implant and was discovering new sounds that she never heard with her cochlear implants.  My mom guided them in Rachel’s journey to getting the cochlear implant.

Then, I saw Rachel for the first time in years in 2005, when she came to Atlanta for a conference.  I was in high school, and Rachel was already long out of college and working.  At that time, I struggled to understand what Rachel was saying, as she still had a very deaf speech, but I still looked up to her.

We reconnected on Facebook a few years ago.  We began conversing about various topics ranging from deafness to current events.  Whenever I had questions relating to deafness, I always ran by her.

She received her second cochlear implant for her other ear about a year ago and is enjoying every minute of it.

Because Rachel has never seen London and wanted to see me, she recently visited in me in London where she toured the city independently.  Even though I was busy with school and work, I managed to have some time to have some lunches and dinners with her and do a little bit of sight seeing with her.  We had a great time together.  Because she definitely has her mom’s sense of humor, she was always laughing and making crazy jokes.  Her speech improved tremendously since I last saw her in 2005.  I did not once have to ask her to repeat what she said.  We had conversations as if I were having conversations with any other normal hearing people.  Her hearing also improved a lot too.  There were times when she wasn’t looking at me and just understood everything I said.  This was because of her determination as she spent countless hours doing rehabilitation to learn to hear through her cochlear implants.  This is to say that it is never too late to get cochlear implants, as long as if you have the persistence, patience and motivation to do rehabilitation and work very hard in learning to hear with cochlear implants, and that cochlear implants are truly powerful technologies!

Rachel Dubin and Rachel Chaikof in London.

Rachel Dubin and Rachel Chaikof in London.

I had an opportunity to film her sharing her story while she was in London:

As what my maternal grandmother, who was also Esther’s really good friend, always says, “What goes around, comes around” as our families helped each other through our journeys of hearing loss.  What’s really unfortunate is that Rachel’s mom now has Alzheimer’s Disease, and she can’t see our friendships.  She would have been so proud of Rachel for traveling to London on her own.  I always tell Rachel that I always wished that I could have lunch with her mom one day to thank her for coaching my family and to enjoy some laughter.  I’ll never forget the moment when Esther said to me at my Bat Mitzvah, “When you become a Rabbi, give me a call!”



February 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Hey Rachel,

Nice post but it is a little bit confusing to understand as It sounds like it was written in third person?



February 22, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Hi Linds,

The story is about a person who is also named Rachel. When you see “Rachel” written, it’s being referred to “Rachel Dubin.” “I” is being referred to me.


May 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm

[...] you to Rachel Dubin for translating this note from Russian to English). [...]