by Angela C. Orlando
I'm a mother. I happen to be deaf-blind, too. Are the two facts
related? Not really. Being a deaf-blind mother is like being
any other mother. I'll show you.
A "typical" mother wakes up at 4:00 am when her son enters the
bedroom. She responds to the light being turned on or her
child's voice say, "Mommy. Mommy."
I don't see the light and I don't hear the voice. Instead, I
feel small hands shaking me awake. Then fingers touch my hands
and spell out, "My tummy hurts and I can't sleep."
A typical mother invites her son to join her in bed. She tries
to console him and lull him back to sleep. That's also what I
His stomach hurts bad and he can't fall back asleep. So the
typical mother gets up and tries to distract him from his pain.
That's what I do, too.
He wants to play his favorite game on the computer. So the
typical mother gets her computer ready for him, even though it's
only 5:30 in the morning. That's what I do. But my computer has
a braille display and screen reader. Once I find the right web
site, I turn on the monitor and give him the mouse so he can
play his game.
His stomach hurts and he can't concentrate on the game. He
decides to watch TV, instead. A typical mother may have a TV in
her room. I don't. So I go downstairs with him. I sit beside
him on the couch while he watches cartoons.
A typical mother is worried about her son. Could it be
Appendicitis? She's not sure and decides to do a Google search
to look up the symptoms.
I decide to do a Google search on my Braille Note to look up the
symptoms. The internet program is limited. Many web sites are
inaccessible. My first four attempts lock up the machine.
Finally, I am able to access the fifth site and learn the
symptoms of Appendicitis. I decide he probably doesn't have
Appendicitis but I will watch him closely over the next several
A typical mother makes toast and juice for her sick child's
breakfast. I make toast and juice for my sick child's breakfast.
He doesn't eat and his stomach still hurts. A typical mother
decides to keep her son home from school. She calls the school
to let them know that he will not be there.
I decide not to send my son to school. I call the school using
my Deaf-Blind Communicator TTY to let them know he will not be
A typical mother calls in sick at work or cancels her activities
so she can stay home with her son. I don't work. I cancel my
physical therapy session so I can stay home with my son.
And so, the similarities go on. I am a mother and I happen to be
deaf-blind. Some people would say I'm not a typical mother. I
disagree. It seems to me that I am like any other mother.