A Deaf Life
Ron and Nancy Westenberger live in a small suburban neighborhood in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They have been married for 31 years and live a seemingly normal life--they go out on dates, hang out with friends but, there’s one thing very unique about them. They’re both Deaf.
Nancy grew up with two hearing parents and two sisters -- one Deaf, one hearing. At school, the Deaf kids were told not to sign. So, at home, she rarely used sign language with her parents. Nancy decided to attend the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia. There she met her future husband, Ron. After finishing at Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, she decided to attend Gallaudet University, a predominately Deaf university, in Washington, D.C. After graduating from Gallaudet, Nancy went back to Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, where she became a field hockey coach and a teacher.
Ron’s story is a little different. He was born hearing and became Deaf. He woke up one day and suddenly couldn’t hear. Ron comes from a family of nine, all of his brothers and sisters are hearing. His parents are hearing. Throughout his childhood, his family did not use sign language. Instead, they would write out what they wanted to say on hands or paper. He became more involved in the Deaf community when he attended the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Ron worked at the Post Office for 31 years. He was window clerk and sold stamps. However, the journey to obtaining that job was a difficult one. He was initially denied the job. He fought back, passed the exam, and was eventually appointed the position.
Together, they agreed that one of the biggest challenges Deaf people face is communication. They wish that people took the time to learn sign language so that everyone would be able to communicate.