CBU Student Jackson Brown feels as though he is living in two worlds
The two worlds are the deaf and the hearing world. They have completely different traditions, customs and ethics.
California Baptist University student Jackson Brown belongs to both the deaf community as well as the hearing community.
Unless you are deaf, or have family members who are, this community is often overlooked. According to Gallaudet University, 4.87 percent of Californians have trouble hearing everyday conversation and 0.41 percent are completely deaf.
Riverside is home to a large deaf population. California School of the Deaf, Riverside(CSDR) is located on Arlington Ave. and is the only public deaf school in Southern California.
When Brown was only a year old, he contracted meningitis which caused him to loose his sense of hearing.
He started kindergarten at CSDR but due to their “no voice” rule, working strictly in sign language, his mother pulled him out of the school in order to attend a private Christian school where he could use his voice freely.
Brown attended Rancho Verde High School, which has a program for deaf students and provides the students with interpreters.
Attending regular public school had challenges beyond communication for Brown. “I was definitely the black sheep, not the big man on campus like I am now,” Brown said.
Brown attended speech therapy in order to learn how to use his voice. Watching lips and feeling the vibrations on the throat while speaking are how Brown learned to speak.
He refrained from using his voice when he was younger, but he now uses it with confidence.
Brown not only talks with confidence but he can sing songs that even the CBU chapel band plays. The Brown family are all talented in music and he follows suit, playing the guitar and drums.
Brown is among the deaf population on the CBU campus. Although he cannot hear, he is just like any other student. He attends class, holds a job on campus as an American Sign Language (ASL) tutor and enjoys many meals at Wanda’s.
He is a freshman at CBU and commutes from Banning where he lives with his family. He has not declared his major yet but is interested in teaching and the Christian studies major. Brown’s older sister, Bradyn, junior nursing major, also attends the university.
“Having a deaf brother has definitely been challenging and has definitely helped shape me into the person that I am,” Brown said.
Out of all of the challenges Brown has, he says that the most difficult has been learning to adjust and function in the hearing world.
Brown is the only deaf member of his family and has many friends who can hear, therefore he considers himself to live in a hearing world yet he chooses to remain in the deaf world.
“God made me this way. He had a purpose for making me deaf and I do not want to change that,” Brown said.
Due to new technology, cochlear implants are available. These implants repair one’s sense of sound. It has become a controversial topic within the deaf community on whether or not to get the implant.
The debate over the implant is over whether or not the deaf community should change themselves to conform to the hearing world.
Brown feels that the implant would be somehow be “playing God” and alter his creation.
Brown encourages those who are curious about the deaf community to simply ask him. Brown can lip read, speak and use sign language, so he is able to communicate with everybody.
“My brother has taught me a lot about overcoming challenges,” Bradyn said. “He doesn’t let the fact that he’s deaf stop him from doing something that he wants to do. He has taught me a lot about being comfortable in your own skin. He’s kind of one of my heroes.”
This “big man on campus” could not be a better role model for other CBU students, as he truly lives his purpose.
“Brown is a upcoming leader with excellent potential to help bridge the gap between deaf and hearing communities,” Daniel Blair, the director of the center for the deaf at CBU, said.
CBU provides many ways in order to learn ASL and more about the deaf community. ASL classes are offered every semester at CBU and the university also features an American Sign Language Club.