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Hearts of L.A. / How the Quake Rocked Our Spirits and Changed Our Lives : COPING WITH CHAOS : 'I can imagine what an earthquake sounds like.'

January 30, 1994|Robert Arnold | Arnold, 33, North Hollywood, is a sign language instructor for adults at Learning Tree University in Chatsworth and Classes Unlimited in South Pasadena. He is 90% deaf without a hearing aid. and

Deaf people don't hear an earthquake. I can imagine what an earthquake must sound like, but because we are deaf, we are overly sensitive to vibrations. But to have everything-- everything --shaking through your legs and through your hands, that freaks you out. It intensifies, it really rattles the body.

After the quake, my hearing aid was not where I usually keep it, on my desktop. Finally, after 45 minutes, maybe an hour--I lost sense of time--I found it, on the floor. It was under papers and some files.

One of the ultimate fears for deaf people: When rescuers are looking for survivors under the rubble, they yell. How would the deaf people respond to, "Are you there? " Deaf people can't keep on screaming forever. You faint.

And then I think, what about blind people, how do they handle it? And what about people in wheelchairs?

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