“We Can’t Hear, but We Can Listen,” Say Deaf Students in Mexico

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PUEBLA, Mexico – They don’t hear anything but feel everything – between applause, eight young Mexican students with hearing defects received their high school diplomas and so became the first inclusive graduating class at Jose Maria Lafragua High School in the Mexican city of Puebla.

“The only thing we can’t do is hear, but we can listen,” one of the students communicated with sign language during the graduation ceremony.

Lack of hearing has united this group since preschool. “They’ve been together since they were little – preschool, elementary, high school and now they’re graduating. We’ve seen them all growing up together and we see they can do it,” Jose David Lozano Hernandez, father of Karen, one of the graduates, told EFE.

At 17, Karen, deaf since she was 6 years old, acknowledges that it wasn’t easy, but it was possible. Her sister is the one who translates the sign language with which this student communicates.

With her diploma in hand, Karen is now ready to start university where she plans to study for a career in graphic design, besides being a master of karate.

“Life is hard, the future is difficult, but we can do it even though we’re deaf,” she said in an interview with EFE.

She added that behind this achievement there have been many hours of study to be “masters in interpreting sign language,” an effort that has been “equally difficult for all of us.”

The teachers who give classes at Jose Maria Lafragua High School know sign language and were trained by a specialist doctor.

In the words of Rogelio Radal Martinez, one of the teachers in charge of teaching reading, understanding and sign language to deaf children, “teachers must find a way to include everyone.” But most importantly, they must “make the student happy and understand what he or she is doing.”

His personal experience backs up his words, since Rogelio has also suffered from hearing disability since he was born.

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