April 5th, 2009 by Rachel | Tags: Children, Cochlear Implant, Oral Education, Professional Story | 2 Comments »
Acey Ossman was very generous to share her story about her experiences in what lead her to become a specialist in listening and spoken language for deaf children. Like Elizabeth, Mel, and Todd, she is very passionate about her job and creating a difference in the lives of deaf children. Here is Acey’s story:
I started my undergraduate career at Appalachian State University as a Communication Disorders major. My freshman year, my stepmother started taking a class in sign language for fun. I was intrigued by it, so much that I decided to transfer to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to become a teacher of the Deaf. My sophomore year, I took Sign Language I and Sign Language II. I aced the classes and was exempt from both final exams because I had fared so well throughout each semester. Yet, as they began to talk about ASL and what we would be learning the following semester, I realized my brain was not wired to learn a new language. I began to panic about my career choice and my future life goals. I went to talk with my advisor about my concerns and she informed me that UNCG was starting an undergraduate program to train teachers in an auditory oral approach. I signed on right away. Within the next year, I was in love with the field. The idea of amplification amazed me and what they taught us about what was possible for these children fascinated me. I was blessed beyond measure to have been allowed into the program. I was taught by some of the best in the field; Todd Houston, Mary V. Compton, and Wendy Walker, just to name a few.
Since graduation, I’ve worked in two private oral school settings as an early interventionist, aural rehabilitation specialist and classroom teacher. I’ve been an itinerant teacher of the deaf in a public school setting, mostly coordinating preschool services and directly serving young children. I’ve also ventured to the corporate side of the cochlear implant manufacturing world as an Outreach Specialist, education hearing aid professionals about the wonders of the cochlear implant. I’ve enjoyed my work at each job and can’t see myself in any other field. I start graduate school in the fall to get a master’s degree in speech language pathology. I strive to know more and more about how I can best help my students and clients. There will be a lot of my schooling that doesn’t apply to the field of hearing loss, but my future plans will always involve working with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
As you can see my story is quite mundane to read. But as I live my story, it’s far from boring. Every day I get to hear my students say or understand something new. They amaze me constantly. Just yesterday, during what has been quite a rough week, I was struggling to wake up, and was sitting with my toddler class at our teddy bear picnic, not feeling very excited about anything in life. We were cleaning up the bears. My youngest student is still not putting her lips together to make that nice “buh bye” so it comes out “duh dye”. As we cleaned up each bear, we said “buh bye bear” over and over again. She wasn’t giving that nice “b” so I leaned in close to her hearing aid to give her a better signal and she kissed me on the cheek. I pulled back in surprise! She proceeded to say “Buh Bye Bear” with the clearest “b”, put the bear away and continue playing. I almost started crying. I hugged her in delight and we went about our day, with me in a much happier mood.
Cochlear implants are not your typical medical device. Pacemakers and titanium hips can save lives and make life easier on a patient, but a cochlear implant can CHANGE a life. If you doubt me, keep reading Rachel’s website. The stories from those affected by the blessing of cochlear implants are endless!