The last time I wrote a letter to the editor was about 1975. At that time, I was a student at Warrenton High School, and in my letter, I asked people not to give money to so-called deaf beggars because I am deaf and found it offensive.

Thirty-five years later, I am still deaf and still educating others about deafness and how I choose to live with it. Hence this letter.

Recently I was at the Warrenton City Park playground with my three daughters. It was a beautiful day and we were all having a good time, especially on the tire swing. There were a couple of other parents there for a while, then they left.

Soon after they left, a police car drove up and an officer got out and came to me. He said he had received a report of an “intoxicated woman” pushing children on a tire swing, that they knew she was intoxicated because she was slurring her words. I told him that I had not noticed anything.

Then he asked me if I had been drinking. I answered that I had not been drinking. I was quite mystified at this point as to why I was being questioned. Then it dawned on me – the other parents there had mistaken my noticeably deaf voice as a sign of intoxication. I was stunned. I explained to the officer that I was deaf and that my voice is different and that they must not have realized that.

The officer asked for my ID, called it in, wished me a good day and left.

I have felt quite unsettled since then. I have had many interesting experiences because of being deaf, but this is a first. I have been profoundly deaf nearly all my life, wore hearing aids for many years, and now have cochlear implants. However, my voice is not perfect and never will be. People usually think I have a foreign accent.

I realize that there is not a large deaf population in this area and hence many people may not have had the chance to hear a “deaf voice.” I am a former college professor and a full-time mom with three fun little girls.

We frequent playgrounds in the North Coast, and I would welcome the opportunity to explain about my deafness to anyone. I’m very comfortable with that and would be happy to visit preschools and kindergartens in order to expose young children to one type of diversity, teach them a few fun signs and introduce them to my daughters.

So, if you see a tall woman with brown hair and glasses and an odd voice and three little girls, that’s me. Come say hi.

PAT JOHANSON

Gearhart

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