Photographed by Josh Gaddy.


Brenda believes she is deaf for a reason. If she were not, she wouldn’t understand the deaf culture of which her parents, brother, uncle and all her cousins are a part. Brenda would be very frustrated with her parents because she wouldn’t know what they need or how they feel. But she does understand. Because she is deaf and better educated, she can help them solve their problems.

Brenda is proud to be the first person in her family to go to college and earn a degree. She thinks it’s a big accomplishment. And it has brought balance in her life: she is in the deaf world and she has hearing friends. Brenda was born hearing, but at age three, she contracted an ear infection and became deaf. Actually, she is not sure if her deafness was from the illness or part of her heritage. Brenda’s parents were very upset when this happened because they had experienced so much discrimination, they didn’t want to see her go through that. They suffered a lot with her. Now Brenda has a partner who is deaf, also, from an ear infection as a young child. So far their daughter is hearing.

“Life has not been easy; I have had to fight for what I want.”