Heather World

Heather Artinian, a Georgetown student who was born deaf and didn’t speak properly, is today advocating for the hearing impaired and hearing worlds to make peace with one another and disregard the age old friction between the two. Artinian, a government major from Glen Cove, N.Y., majoring in government studies and minoring in peace and justice studies walks the ramp to receive her Harvard Law school degree. It is a culmination of 18 years of hard work and persistence towards achieving her goal of becoming a lawyer. She was also a star of the popular documentary nominated for academy - award titled “Sound and Fury”.

Heather Artinian: a deaf student with cochlear implant talks of bridging the two worlds of Deaf and Hearing. Her journey from deaf to hearing through cochlear implant and now as a bridge between the two worlds called the “Heather World” starts at the age of 5 when she decided to get cochlear implant. Though her parents refused initially as getting cochlear implant would mean a rejection of Deaf culture, they agreed to her decision at the age of 10. Her argument was that she was proud of the Deaf culture and its uniqueness but also wanted to be able to hear and not give someone a chance to say no to her.

Artinian in a recent Ted Talk shares several experiences of her journey from learning how to speak and hear, attending hearing schools and striving to be a part of the Deaf culture and the hearing world. However the most important aspect of her speech was the need to bridge this gap between the hearing and the deaf that is created because of lack of trust, discomfort of something unusual and lack of awareness. She talks about the different kind of experiences she had while attending the hearing school, when people couldn’t understand her or didn’t talk to her but what she realized is that, these people didn’t talk to her not because they didn’t like her but because they were scared of something unusual. All they see is the deaf and not the person, probably because they are encountering them for the first time.

In her speech she urges the Deaf people to reach out to the hearing people and grab every opportunity they can to bridge this age old gap. She makes people understand the importance of reaching out. Make the first step, talk to people, give them a warm smile and you have the power to enchant the entire world. She feels that once you bridge and open up yourself, there is a world full of opportunities ready to embrace you, and you are allowing others to understand why you are worthy of that opportunity, why you are worth building. However she has also faced negative comments, disagreement but all she tells is that those bridges that you can make will move the society forward and as you keep building those bridges the numbers will grow.

­She calls this world of hers the “Heather World” which is neither on the side of the deaf nor on the side of the hearing, but somewhere in between which is bridging the gap between the two. The world which believes that by reaching out to new people and bridging the gap you will see the wonders happening right in front your eyes. Do you want to still want to be a part of this divided world of Deaf and hearing or build a world of your own just like Heather did?

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