From: Port Richey, FL
Kelly has dedicated herself to helping those with hearing loss achieve their career goals and learn the best ways to communicate with others. She works for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services of Florida as a job coach and advocate, and volunteers for many community organizations such as the Hearing Loss Association of America, Deaf Coffee Social, Cochlear America Network, and a Children’s mentoring program.
Her experience with hearing loss has greatly impacted her career.
“With my sign language skills and hearing aids, I can better communicate with clients who are fluent in sign language,” says Kelly. “I can share my experiences with those who have a cochlear implant and/or hearing aids. Now I can better navigate communication barriers between hearing and deaf or hard of hearing persons much better.”
After battling high fevers and a double ear infection at the age of three, Kelly lost her hearing. Her parents quickly noticed and began to look into options for treatment immediately.
“I received hearing aids for the first time when I was five years old. I was so happy I could really hear for the first time since I was three,” says Kelly. “The next major moment for me was when I got a cochlear implant. When it was activated, it was very emotional. I could hear so much more for the first time.”
Kelly is thankful for her hearing devices and cochlear implants because they help her in many aspects of her life. With better hearing, she was able to attend mainstream schools as a child, be more independent, and get hired for jobs where hearing was necessary.
While Kelly serves as an inspiration to others, she also has role models of her own. She has always looked up to actress Marlee Matlin.
“We have a lot in common,” she says. “We are both fluent in sign language, very engrained in the deaf culture, advocate for deaf and hard of hearing individuals, both have good verbal skills, and both of us are married to spouses who are law enforcement officers.”
Kelly is a HearStrong Champion not only because her career requires her to be an advocate, she also spends much of her time volunteering for organizations that support those with hearing loss.
“I am honored and privileged to reach out to others and explain my story,” says Kelly. “I feel that I’ve been a successful role model and mentor to those who are deaf and hard of hearing.”
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