Woman ensures she is heard
October 21, 2011
For most of us, hearing is just something we take for granted. And while we sometimes wish for a quieter, less noisy world, most of us would be lost without that auditory element that provides us a way to communicate and express ourselves.
Stacy Brooks cannot hear. She has never heard a single word … and she has never let it get in her way. Growing up, she learned not to dwell on being deaf and certainly doesn't want any special consideration because of it. She just wants to be treated like anyone else, with respect and dignity.
As a child she was bullied because of her small stature and her inability to hear. On top of that she had to adjust to frequent moves with her Family. High school was the worst and the intolerance came from both the hearing and deaf students. The teasing and hurtful acts have made her keenly sensitive and aware of the injustices and inequalities.
It has also made her feisty.
The woman, who stands just over five feet tall, is willing to take on behavior she doesn't like when she sees it. With a laugh she said she occasionally embarrasses her 18 year-old son in public by standing up and righting wrongs.
Working, going to school and raising a child as a single parent has made her independent and fearless. Yet, from time to time, people ignore her or she gets passed-up in line as she writes a note to communicate what she needs. Brooks signs, reads lips and communicates very well speaking. She said her deafness doesn't define her.
"Deafness has made me fearless. I just go out and do the things I want to do, it is not a handicap unless you choose it to be one," said Brooks.
When she was choosing a career 20 years ago she knew her choices were limited. Today there are countless more options. She chose to work for the government after two internships in a work recruitment program. As a Joint Personal Property Shipping Office, Washington Area transport coordinator, Brooks deals with shipments, invoices and emails customers with information and answers regarding their shipping and storage questions. She has worked at JPPSOWA for more than a decade. The only time she requires assistance from a co-worker is when receives a phone call. She takes on any assignments readily and even joined JPPSOWA's softball team, playing a sport she has never tried before. She found it to be enjoyable and fun although she prefers soccer, a sport she played in college, first on the men's team and later on the school's newly formed women's team.
Brooks readily takes on challenges and doesn't accept no for an answer. She wishes people would accept deafness in society the way she has by adapting, assimilating and accepting. "Change is constant. I like that it is always changing here on Fort Belvoir, changing regulations, changing work tasks …everything is always changing," said Brooks.
Brooks once read an old newspaper story about a deaf man who was arrested for driving in the 1970's and was appalled. "I am glad that I live in an era where all are protected under anti-discrimination laws and we have equal workers rights," she said.
Brooks is also grateful to her parents who worked with her in her developmental years to learn the alphabet and she began reading early. She states that although being deaf has shaped her and made her who she is, it certainly hasn't held her back in life. Now that her son has graduated from high school she plans to turn her energy and focus on to her own career by taking classes, with a goal of moving into management with a strong interest in a financial field.
Brooks' recent encounter with a clerk who asked "what for?" when she asked for a pen and paper, because the clerk did not understand the reason for her request, has also opened her eyes.
"In spite all the communication technology in our culture today and in the openness and awareness some individuals may be misinformed and unaware of how to behave with people who have disabilities that they might encounter. You never should judge anyone," said Brooks.