Senior Tama Ziton thrives despite hearing loss

Anna Dittman

Four years ago, senior Tama Ziton’s hearing loss began. An accident causing her to fall down the stairs created a cerebrospinal fluid leak. CSF leaks results when the cerebral sack around the brain and spinal cord tears open and the fluids drain out.

“When I tore my cerebral sack the fluid drained, causing me to be bedridden for eight months. It was what caused the hearing loss, and also some eye damage,” Ziton said.

She can currently hear out of both ears; however, she can hear loud things, like a car honking, only if it is close to her. For example, she can listen to music at a level of 25 or higher. When people are having discussions with her, to tell what they are saying she reads people’s lips if she cannot hear, and has become accustomed to this skill.

“I can read lips fairly well, but that is a personal choice,” Ziton said. “Not all hard of hearing or deaf people can read lips.”

The use of sign language is a necessary and important skill to learn in this situation. Ziton has known sign language since before the hearing loss, and was self-taught due to her own desire to be fair to everyone. She also taught this skill to others.

“I would say my skills of sign-language are moderate,” Ziton said. “I can have deep and factorial conversations with other deaf and hard of hearing people.”

She uses sign-language everyday, usually with other deaf or hard of hearing people. Not many of her friends have enough knowledge about sign-language to do it properly; however, they do put in some effort. Her family members also do not use this technique, only her sister knows the alphabet. Ziton believes that it is important to learn how to use it properly.

“Not only does it widen your social range, it allows you to become more intellectual. Signing with your hands is just a very small part of sign language,” Ziton said. “The most important of it all is facial expressions and body language. People constantly talk with their hands. Sign language helps put words to those random hand motions.”

Ziton is also a person with musical talent. She plays the piano and violin, and even danced professionally and got the opportunity to appear on television for it. She loves music and art, and can often be seen with a pencil in her hand ready to draw.

“Just because someone is deaf, does not mean they cannot hear. Just because someone is blind, does not mean they cannot see,” Ziton said. “To the literal definition, yes the cannot, but seeing and hearing can be felt.”

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