Henry Kisor lives in Evanston, Illinois. Due to meningitis in his childhood, he became profoundly deaf at the age of three. Now, at 80, he has reflected much on growing up in a world that often overlooked those who were deaf of HoH.
He grew up oral, attending public schools at a time the phrase “mainstreaming” did not even exist yet. The lack of awareness of deafness and deaf culture as he grew up left him dependent on lipreading to communicate anything and everything. Due to this, he is still primarily reliant on lipreading to communicate despite the “imperfectness” of it. He was a deaf man in a “hearing world,” and has been through the entirely of his life.
He married a hearing woman, and spent his whole working and social life in the “hearing world.” He was a newspaper editor and literary columnist. He has written ten books, all of which are still in print. Due to having to lipread to communicate, he has had trouble during social events, but that is just something he grew accustomed to.
He describes his speech as “typical deaf speech,” which means “understandable if one listens carefully, but unintelligible to some people.” This prompted him to attempt to learn ASL, so he could reach out and expand socially, but he never had someone to practice with. Over the years, what has stuck with him, despite the lack of a training-partner, are the signs “I love you” and “thank you.”
He has a wonderful service dog named Trooper, who has helped him break the ice in many social situations in the “hearing world”. Henry says, “Everybody loves dogs and wants to know Trooper…” He thanks Trooper for expanding his social interactions.
Henry has no specific advice for others that are deaf or HoH, just that they should pursue whatever works for them personally—be it ASL, CIs, lipreading, aids, or whatever they may have discovered. He has found an amazing career with the written word, mastering English and thriving as a writer and editor. He does advocate that learning how to write “clearly and cleanly” was an amazing help in the business realm, and that it is a skill that everyone should have. It can open doors for people, and can expand horizons.
As his last comment, Henry wanted to say how he “admire[s] Deaf culture a great deal, as well as ASL native speakers, who have risen high in the world. Not learning it is one of [his] few regrets.”