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Washington School for the Deaf opens doors for athletes

Juan and Jose Ramirez are prospering in a new sport at a new place they call home.

Not only are the twin brothers new residential students to Washington School for the Deaf via Federal Way’s Todd Beamer High School, but also are new to football.

In fact, the juniors said, coming to the Vancouver school that serves students kindergarten through 12th grade statewide was the right choice they and their family made. Attending a school with similar peers allows them to feel accepted and thrive in the educational setting, and that includes football.

“We didn’t have the skills to play on public school teams,” quarterback Jose Ramirez said in American Sign Language. “It’s made us really happy to participate in sports, and we really enjoy being with other deaf players.”

Saturday, WSD kickoff a full day of Homecoming festivities that included hosting New Mexico School for the Deaf in its 8-man football game at Devereaux Field.

About 500 alumni from numerous graduating classes, fans and current students and staff were on hand to celebrate 80 years of cheerleading and the 1978 Terriers football team that went 8-0.

This year’s Terriers dropped their third game of the year Saturday, 62-12. Ramirez’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Alexz Schaut in addition to Yovany Barragan’s 8-yard touchdown run, highlighted the Terriers’ offense. Both scores came in the third quarter.

Rob MacArthur first coached the Terriers in 2001 as an assistant before becoming head coach in 2009. The team lost six starters — five seniors and one player via transfer — from last season’s squad and commonly relies on first-time football players.

This year’s team is no exception with five first-time players. One of them is Schaut, the freshman who scored the team’s second of two touchdowns. Last year, two of the football newbies were the Ramirez brothers. Juan Ramirez plays wide receiver.

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Sharing her story: Deaf advocate, author speaks at UMHB

Deaf advocate and author Brandi Rarus shared her personal story and her family’s journey through adoption with University of Mary Hardin-Baylor students during chapel Wednesday.

It was her second time to speak at chapel services and Rarus said it was “so good to be back again.” She spoke to her audiences in sign language through an interpreter.

Rarus is the vice president of public relations, engagement and policy for Communication Services for the Deaf, the largest non-profit organization for deaf people in the world.

She said through her job she is working to challenge the misconceptions about deaf people, developing and encouraging the deaf community to become successful, and to spotlight deaf success stories to change those misconceptions.

Rarus is also the author of “Finding Zoe,” the story of her family’s journey in adopting a deaf baby girl. She spoke to students about her personal experiences and the events that led her to write about the adoption experience.

She began with her own story.

“I was born hearing, and I became deaf at the age of six from spinal meningitis,” Rarus said. “I became very ill. I spent two weeks in the hospital and I was asleep most of the time.”

She said when she finally woke up, the first real memory she had was of her father coming in to tell her about all the people who had been by to visit.

“I was following him,” she said. “I was understanding him until he got to my cousin Doris. He said, ‘Doris,’ and I said, ‘Who?’ and he repeated it and I asked again. I said, ‘Who?’ And I realized in that moment that my world was silent.”

Rarus said when she lost her hearing she wasn’t angry or even confused.

“I began to realize, oh, there are deaf people… deafness was a new thing to me,” she said. “And at that time I was much more interested in getting on with my life.”

But as time went on, Rarus said dealing with her circumstances became an increasing struggle.

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The Jewish gaucho’s son who improved the lives of the deaf | Stu Bykofsky

He’s half-deaf and partly blind, but there’s nothing wrong with his mind, and the chatty optometrist is laying a trap.

Dr. E. Robert Libby is 98. He expects the cornball question, but when it doesn’t come soon enough, Libby prompts me to ask it, and I do:

“What is your secret of longevity?”  The trap snaps shut.

“I just didn’t die!” he says, laughing. Libby is on his recliner, holding court in his home in a quiet corner of Bala Cynwyd. He’s lived there for 50 years, the last seven alone since the death of his wife, Mira, to whom he was wed for 57 years.

Actually, he’s not alone. His full-time caretaker, fan, and friend is Cheryl Pringle, 57, an ebullient native of Barbados who was a classmate of Libby’s children, Daniel and Claire, at Rosemont’s Harrington High School. Libby is happy to talk about his son, daughter-in-law Lori, and grandchildren Max and Jacob.

Libby is famous among audiologists, such as his son. Although he was an optometrist, he invented the Libby Horn, a simple yet stunning hearing-aid improvement that was a boon to the hearing-impaired.

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