October 13, 2002 - Allentown Morning Call: St. Lucia RPCV Denise Brown worked with deaf

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Saint Lucia: Peace Corps Saint Lucia : The Peace Corps in Saint Lucia: October 13, 2002 - Allentown Morning Call: St. Lucia RPCV Denise Brown worked with deaf

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St. Lucia RPCV Denise Brown worked with deaf

Read and comment on this story from the Allentown Morning Call on St. Lucia RPCV Denise Brown who works with the deaf at:

Allentonian honored for work with deaf*

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Allentonian honored for work with deaf

Award winner, also hearing impaired, spreads awareness.

By Sara Wells
Of The Morning Call

The bubble burst when Brown enlisted in the Peace Corps and was sent to St. Lucia to help educate its deaf. For the first time, Brown, who communicates through sign language, had to socialize with the hearing and without the benefit of special machines like the Telecommunication Device for the Deaf, which allows her to make phone calls.

''I learned how to get along with two different groups of people,'' Brown said through Arnine Weiss, a certified sign language interpreter. ''It was the best experience, it helped me so much.''

It is because of Brown's ability to work with the deaf, hearing impaired and the hearing, and her work to spread deafness awareness that Brown will receive the CARE, Customer Achievement and Recognition of Excellence, award from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation today.

''Denise is wonderful,'' said Rick Walters, assistant district administrator for the organization. ''She is just so articulate, so nice and so great to talk to. And she has done so much for deaf people in this community.''

Brown, who became deaf at age 1 after taking medication to treat a severe case of meningitis, said she was ''very flattered and honored'' when she found out she was to receive the award.

This is the sixth year the award will be given. The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is a state agency that provides services to help people with disabilities get and keep full-time jobs. In choosing the CARE winner, Walters said that a nominating committee looks for a customer of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation who has been holding a full-time job in the community for some time and has given back to the community to help people with disabilities.

Brown came to the office when she was a junior at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and knew that she wanted to attend college. The office matched her with a deaf rehabilitation counselor who helped her get into Gallaudet University, narrow her career search and later outfit her first apartment with special devices like a flashing doorbell and alarm clock.

Brown, who has a master's degree in deafness rehabilitation from New York University, is the Northeast Regional Representative for the Pennsylvania Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Her job there is to provide information and referrals to the hearing impaired. She also teaches sign language to the hearing at Lehigh Carbon Community College.

''I wanted to make a difference,'' Brown said on choosing her line of work. ''Whether little or small, I wanted to make a difference.''

Brown said that much still needs to be done to help the deaf lead normal lives, but it is the hearing who need to do most of the work. She said misconceptions by the hearing about what the deaf can and cannot do create obstacles, especially in terms of getting the deaf employment.

''The first question I am always asked is 'Can you read lips?''' Brown said.

For the record, Brown said she can read lips a little, but prefers sign language and e-mail.

Copyright © 2002, The Morning Call

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; What RPCVs are doing today; Service; COS - St. Lucia



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