Deaf Ashley Yount Has Something to Say
By John Graham
July 22nd, 2012
I was deeply touched as I read Lisa Gray’s story of Ashley Yount in the Sunday, July 22, 2012 issue of Houston Chronicle, page G1. Having been an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician in my distant past (before becoming a plastic surgeon), I was captivated by Ashley’s plight as a little girl who could not hear. Her mother Julie Yount has given much of her attention to seeing that her daughter get the best care possible. That included cochlear implants by Dr. Edward Maddox, here in Houston. Immediately, I recalled my own reaction when I first learned some otologists (ear specialists) were implanting wires into the cochlear nerve to restore hearing loss. i thought, “That will never work. How can twelve wires restore hearing that in the normal ear requires thousands of thair cells?” I thought it would not succeed. I was wrong. Many have had successful restoration of hearing with cochlear implants. Rush Limbaugh being but one example.
When she was 3 years of age Ashley was increasing frustrated by not being able to hear. The Deaf Culture said the choice was between teaching her to read lips (Oral Method) or Sign language. There was great resistance to cochlear implants which they felt would cut her off from the deaf community and leave her isolated. Ashley’s struggle to hear did not end with the implants as it has apparantly done for Rush Limbaugh. Ashley has had difficulty hearing in noisy environments such as a school cafeteria or even the classroom. When she asked fellow students to repeat what they had said they usually just said, “I will tell you later,” but they did not. She was never invited to birthday parties. Ashley became depressed.
Now she has learned sign language which has given her a place in the deaf community and is planning for college, probably at Rochester Institute of Technology or Gallaudet University, both strongholds of sign language. Over 1,200 hard of hearing students attend RIT and there she hopes to find firends who sign, but also have a life in the mainstream world (because she still has her cochlear implants).
Like I say, I was deeply touched by the courage of this beautiful young woman. She now has a dream and says, “A person should get to have her dream.” To that I say, Amen! God bless you Ashley. To read Lisa Gray’s entire article either buy the newspaper or I assume it will be posted on the Houston Chronicle website sometime this week along with her other articles. Just go to www.chron.com > Lisa Gray. You will be blessed and have a deeper appreciation for the struggle hard of hearing and deaf people experience.