The Speech & Signing Therapy Project
in conjunction with CANFRO’s partner, CORAL
“Every time I see a young mother with a young child arrive at CORAL [the Oaxacan Centre for the Rehabilitation of Hearing and Speech],” says Gisela Adriana Ramírez Ramírez, “it reminds me of the path traveled with my children.” Gisela, a mother of two children with hearing loss, has been involved with CORAL as a client and teacher for half of her 34 years. “It has been a lot of learning in our lives,” she says.
Gisela married at 14, and at 15 had her first child, a girl named Alejandra. From the beginning, Gisela suspected that her young daughter could not hear, but it was not until Alejandra was two that she was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss. In a moment of serendipity, she saw a mother whose child was wearing hearing aids. The mother told Gisela about CORAL, and the next day, Gisela was at CORAL’s door. Alejandra began therapy shortly afterwards.
Two years later, Gisela had a second child, Luís, and to her profound dismay, he, too, was diagnosed with a severe hearing loss.
For ten years, Gisela’s life revolved around her children. She attended therapy sessions daily, participating in each lesson, as is required by CORAL. Therapy, both structured and spontaneous, continued at home, because teaching language to a deaf child is a 24-hour-a-day job. Thanks to her growing expertise, she became a teacher at CORAL’s preschool, and has now been part of the CORAL team for almost ten years.
She knew no deaf adult role models, but despite that, Gisela’s wish for her children was that they achieve independent lives. Her support for their activities and interests has helped them blossom. Her teenaged daughter belongs to two arts groups, the dance troupe for deaf youth, “Daanza con Señas” (Dance with signs) and the theatre company “Guelaguetza de Palabras y Señas” (Guelaguetza of Words and Signs). Alejandra achieved another milestone: a job at a hotel. Her son Luís focuses on sports and martial arts, including Tae Kwon Do and boxing. He communicates orally without difficulty and has learned Sign Language.
In her role with CORAL, Gisela regularly presents workshops to parents about a variety of topics relating to deafness. She has lived the grief and healing process that a parent of a deaf child faces. That experience, she says, allows her to share “my history as a mother with other moms who express their fears, concerns and feelings as they start their own experience being mothers of deaf children. “