I was 21. I had never met a deaf person. When I became deaf, I was devastated. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. All I could think about was can't. What do you think life would be like if you were deaf? Right away, you'd start ticking off the things you wouldn't be able to do. And that's what I did. Fortunately, I became deaf here in Washington, D.C., [in a motorcycle accident] and if you're going to become deaf, this is a good place to do it. It didn't take me long after I came here to come to the understanding that deafness is just one part of my being, and that it's a small part.

Sometimes it's a pain in the ass. Sometimes I want to understand somebody, and I can't, and I don't have something to write with. I've been on a Metrobus and haven't been able to understand the driver, so I offered to write, and the driver got mad at me. And later somebody said, Well, maybe the driver isn't too good a [reader]. So there are sometimes frustrations, but everybody has those.

I went to graduate school at the University of Tennessee. I started in the fall of 1969, and at that time, there wasn't even a field called interpreting. They didn't have professional interpreters, so I didn't have any interpreting in my classes. My access was borrowing the notes that other students had written. I think, in retrospect, I probably got about half an education. I certainly never got the same education as the person sitting next to me who could hear. How does education work? The very fundamental issue is you have to be able to communicate with your teacher.

-- Interview by Tyler Currie