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Shattering the Sounds of Silence : With a New Deaf President, Gallaudet Students Bask in Benefits of Having Made Their Protests Heard

May 04, 1988|BETTY CUNIBERTI | Times Staff Writer

Helped With Note Taking

"The first time it was very awkward and difficult for me to ask," he recalled. "But at the end of the class they told me it actually helped them because they became more conscientious about their note taking. I always had the best notes in the class because I asked three people. People found out about this and always wanted to study with me at exam time."

Under-employment remains a "very, very real" problem for deaf people, Jordan said. Some people in the hearing world have even wondered if the "deaf world" of Gallaudet is beneficial for preparing students for the hearing world they will be facing.

When Terri Hedding decided she wanted to attend Gallaudet rather than a mainstream college, her parents "were disappointed and upset at first," she said.

According to Mathay, the school's job development coordinator, about 50% of Gallaudet graduates will enter a professional field involved with deafness. The No. 1 employer of Gallaudet graduates is Gallaudet. Gallaudet graduates have little trouble finding jobs, Mathay said. But the difficulty comes later in securing promotions.

Discrimination Seen

"They're staying at entry level positions far beyond their (hearing) peers," said Mathay, who suspects the problem is not any kind of educational deficiency, but rather discrimination in the workplace, which is seen across the board for deaf workers in America.

Mark Call, a Gallaudet football player from Anaheim, already has served an internship working with computers for IBM in Dallas. His goal is to become a systems analyst "for a big corporation," Call said.

"I'm not concerned about being hired. I'm confident. I've proved I can do it.

"I wrote some things on paper and taught a few of the employees I worked with some sign language."

Hlibok, whose brother graduated from Gallaudet and became the first deaf stockbroker for Merrill Lynch, echoed the common view of Gallaudet students that their school is the best place to prepare for the hearing world.

"The most important thing of all is to help them build confidence in themselves," said Hlibok, who left a hearing school after three months of fighting with classmates and not getting called on in first grade.

"Perhaps they will face more barriers after they graduate than they had here, but they will have the confidence to fight against it."

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