The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE student uses disability to help inform community

By Chris Webb/reporter

Janet Morrow lives a life like many other TCC students.

She wakes up and scrambles through absurd traffic, fights through droves of congestion to find a parking spot, navigates through crowds of people to get to class and tries to get there early for some extra study time.

The difference is in what she doesn’t experience; Morrow is deaf.

“ Fifteen years ago I was working for American Airlines, I had two kids and life was just great,” she said. “Then I started noticing that my telephone at work wasn’t working well, and I assumed it was broken. Then my telephone at home wasn’t working well either.”

That’s when Morrow, a NE Campus student, realized there was nothing wrong with her phone; instead, something was wrong with her hearing. Assuming she had an ear infection, she went to the doctor.

“ He told me that it was permanent hearing loss, but that it probably wouldn’t get any worse,” she said.

But, it did get worse. Morrow lost her hearing in both ears.

“ I was devastated. I had to go on disability. All my training and schooling seemed useless.”

But rather than become crippled by her hearing loss, Morrow simply started over.

“ When I first went back to school, it was like re-learning how to live. I didn’t think I would ever be able to function in a normal classroom setting,” she said. “But thanks to the extraordinary help the DSS office provided, I was able to find a solution for most of the problems I thought I couldn’t get past. Of course, there are obstacles, and it’s not always easy, but I expected that.”

The Disabilities Support Services office has served as the backbone for many success stories like Morrow’s. Still, many students at TCC don’t even know there is a Disabilities Support Services, but the ones who do, know why.

“ We are always working in the background, I suppose. Unless you’re someone with a disability there’s not a lot of reason why you would know about the DSS office,” Judy Kelly, DSS coordinator on NE Campus, said. “But we aren’t here for those students. We’re here to help anybody who has a disability find a way to work around it.”

Morrow has found a way to give back to the DSS office by bringing a new disabilities support organization to the campus. She has started a new chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America on the NE Campus.

“ What really helped me to not only cope with, but overcome my disability was when I started going to the HLAA meetings,” she said. “It made me realize that I wasn’t the only person in the world dealing with this.”

The HLAA, a national organization divided into chapters run by members, is the nation’s largest organization for people with hearing loss.

“ HLAA helped me for many years, but I was so busy with my job that I couldn’t really be active with leadership in any of the chapters, but I always said that if things ever changed so that I have time to do that, I would,” she said.

“ When I went on disability, suddenly I did have time to do that, so I worked with some other people. And after six months of work, we got a chapter going in Grapevine.”

Morrow and her chapter have flourished and outgrown their old meeting location. Kelly serves as sponsor, lending the support of the DSS office. She has made arrangements for the chapter to meet in NSTU 1506.

The first meeting is 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6. Dan White, hard of hearing specialist at Goodrich Center for the Deaf, will present Telephone Technology for People with Hearing Loss. Attendance as well as a membership in this chapter of HLAA is free.

“ We are very excited about this. It’s the first time we have been able to do something like this and branch out into the community,” Kelly said.

“ It’s great that we can get anyone involved, student or otherwise. To me, this goes right along with everything we do at the DSS.”

Morrow sees the move as a positive one as well and hopes the new location will reach out to even more people than before.

“ When you lose your hearing, it’s catastrophic for anyone at any age, and I think having the meetings at a college will bring new vitality to our chapter and encourage more people to get active and reach out,” she said. “HLAA helped me so much I hope this new chapter can do the same for anyone else who’s struggling.”

In addition to being the new chapter leader of the HLAA program that’s soon to be on campus, Morrow has started working on a bachelor’s in graphic design and hopes to eventually get accepted into a master’s program in painting or sculpting.

“ When you go from being a person who can cope with things and feel like you can do pretty much anything and then you become someone with all kinds of limitations, it’s very frustrating,” she said.

“ So being able to come here [TCC] and do as well as, if not better than, the first time I went through school has been such a positive experience and has given back much of the confidence I had lost.”

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