These words were signed at a Homecoming football game: “I am Deaf and Proud” by Autumn Moder, a senior student. She had just been crowned Homecoming Queen at a hearing high school. She went to hearing school all her life. Autumn has an interpreter and is able to interact with other hearing classmates with no problem. She has been a very high-spirited person since she was a little girl. Autumn’s parents are also deaf and they have fought for her equal access to education at the same level with her hearing peers. At an early age, she had no interpreter in her classroom because her teacher thought that she could communicate using her hearing aids. Her parents disagreed. Without her parents’ support to push her through her schooling and sports while working through adversity, she may have never have made it to the stage as Homecoming Queen.
By insuring everything made possible for Autumn’s success, her parents Mike and Dawn had an active role in Autumn’s education using their knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which spelled out rights of the Deaf. They taught the school principals, teachers, and coaches about ADA/Deaf rights. It is very important for all parents to stand up for their deaf children to have full access to communication with good interpreters in the educational environment, including sports/recreation.
Autumn had a fair share of frustration in getting an interpreter for school. For her to gain equal access in education with her peers, she needed an interpreter there for her communication. Since full communication is a two-way street, she understood her teachers and classmates better. She finally got interpreters by Middle School because of her mother’s request at an IEP meeting. The teachers thought that Autumn was doing okay without an interpreter. Her mother disagreed and it turned out that the teacher was wrong about their assessment of Autumn. As a result of having an interpreter, Autumn greatly improved her understanding in the classroom. Her grades went up and she participated more in the classroom thanks to the interpreter. It was a huge difference from her time in previous elementary and middle school. This shows that it is important to have parents be involved in their children’s education through IEP meetings.
Autumn however disliked wearing a hearing aid. From fifth grade until seventh grade she used both a hearing aid-FM system and an interpreter. Her parents made a deal with her: if she made straight A’s throughout the rest of her classes in middle school, she could have only an interpreter instead. Autumn achieved that easily and has only used an interpreter ever since with no problem in class or with her peers.
Autumn grew up to be a wonderful person thanks to her parents’ involvement. She is participating in basketball, soccer, and throwing in track. She is a captain in both track and basketball. Additionally, she is in the National Honor Society and the Student Council. Before high school, she was in a travelling basketball league when younger along with playing at Metro Deaf School for three years, and in AAU for five years. She balanced a lot of basketball teams at once, which eventually paid off. In High School, she made it to the JV/Varsity team as a freshman and is a power player with a good attitude. By her senior year, they were at their best record as a team in all her four years. She is a tough player despite her size as a forward against players who are usually bigger than her. In addition to sports in high school, she has been taking AP and CIS classes which are highly rigorous college classes. With this, she is prepared for next year when she is planning to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Due to her active involvement in high school, other students gained awareness about the Deaf community and culture.
Her family wanted the school to provide a class in American Sign Language (ASL) to hearing students which happened during high school. It was successful because it filled up fast. With that, Autumn now has peers at her school who will understand her in American Sign Language and her culture as a deaf person. You can see how Autumn grew up into a beautiful person being crowned on stage as Homecoming Queen. She got there with her family’s support, the school’s involvement and by her own endeavors.