Dear AG Bell Community,
Back-to-school is always a time of flurry and high energy. New clothes and shoes, new backpacks, and new supplies land in our shopping carts and swirl around our rooms at home. But what about new people to meet and new needs to explain hearing loss?
Monrovia Prinz is entering the sixth grade this year. For the past three years, she has produced a video for her teachers that not only explains her hearing loss, but also helps teachers understand how to support her without causing unnecessary anxiety or embarrassment. Monrovia was born deaf and had her first cochlear implant surgery before her first birthday. With lots of therapy and support, she has flourished and become an outstanding student. With support from the Turn It Up Fund at AG Bell, she has also learned to play the piano. She is very outgoing and enjoys performing for others, including at church.
Monrovia’s mother, Susannah, is a professional artist. Her experience with holistic learning led her to make the choice for Monrovia to learn music, which gave her a foundation for creative thinking.
“I already see how socially, learning piano has made Monrovia more confident and helped her forge relationships with other kids who are learning an instrument or in the choir with her,” says Susannah.
Monrovia is remarkable because of her positive personality and willingness to bring others along on her life journey, and she has benefited because her parents committed time, energy and resources to engaging her in lots of ways to build her intelligence and spirit. But the key to all she has achieved and will achieve is her family’s commitment to Listening and Spoken Language. The opportunities afforded to Monrovia in this time in our history are limitless – Universal Newborn Hearing Screening ensured her hearing loss was identified before she was one month old. Hearing technology like hearing aids and cochlear implants ensured that information from the world around her would stimulate Monrovia’s brain and enable her to process language. The therapists and educators in her life guided her and her family as Monrovia learned to speak and ultimately to engage fully with her peers who have typical hearing.
As our students – both young and mature – begin the school year, I encourage you to think about what children who are deaf and hard of hearing need to succeed. More than anything, they need for all of us to understand their challenges, to support their ambitions, and to include them in all we do. Like any young person, they need guidance and support, but they also need us to change perceptions about people with hearing loss and what they can do. AG Bell welcomes your stories as a person with hearing loss, a parent navigating a child’s path, or aprofessional guiding children and families to success. The more we talk about what our children need, the easier the path to success will become for them, and we’ll see them all live a life without limits.
Last evening, I had the great privilege to watch the new documentary film Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements and was moved to tears. Not only does this film spread awareness regarding the world of hearing loss, it seeks to go beyond and express the humanity of families dealing with loss.
I urge you to see Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements at a theater near you. For information on upcoming showings and theater listings, click here.
Chief Executive Officer
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents." - Ludwig van Beethoven