Deaf teen tapping her way to fame


New Member
Deaf teen tapping her way to fame

For the next few weeks, Elena LaQuatra, 15, will be spending a lot of time in a dance studio at the Center for Theater Arts in Mt. Lebanon spinning, twirling and tapping like crazy as she prepares for her big day.

Elena was recently named Pennsylvania's Outstanding Teen America when she won the Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Pageant held in Nazareth, Pa. She's now preparing for the national competition, Miss America's Outstanding Teen Pageant, which will be held Aug. 7-11 in Orlando, Fla.

Her talent for the competition is tap dancing and that's what she'll be busy practicing at the center where she takes lessons.

But she's hoping to make a bigger impression in the platform segment of the competition. Elena is profoundly deaf and uses a cochlear implant to hear. Her platform is "Oral Deaf Education ... Finding Your Voice."

Through that platform she advocates the use of cochlear implants for the deaf and appears regularly in front of audiences to talk about her experience in using them. In February she attended a convention sponsored by Cochlear America, a firm that produces cochlear implants, and spoke to other users and those considering the implants about her experience.

She also speaks and performs at the DePaul School for Hearing and Speech, where she attended from preschool to second grade.

"Your platform is what you raise support and money for and this is what I care about. I think everyone who is deaf should be able to hear and speak," Elena said.

Elena lost her hearing to meningitis in 1996 when she was 4. Her father, Paul, said a cold turned to meningitis overnight and Elena ended up in the hospital. Almost from the start, her parents could tell her hearing was affected. Tests later showed she was profoundly deaf, but doctors told her family about what was then a relatively new technology known as the cochlear implant that could restore her hearing.

There were complications with her first implant, which meant she did not hear for 10 months and the quality of her speech deteriorated. During that time, she taught herself to read lips.

The second implant was a success, and along with speech and various physical therapies, Elena eventually returned to normal.

Elena's sense of balance was also upset when she lost her hearing. But the therapies restored that as well. Her father said he is still amazed each time he sees her twist and twirl as she dances across a stage.

From preschool until second grade, Elena attended DePaul Institute, which was located in the South Hills at the time. The school has since become DePaul School for Hearing and Speech and has moved to Shadyside. Paul LaQuatra said Elena quickly was able to get her speech back to normal levels because her speech patterns were established before she lost her hearing.

"What really impresses people is that with her cochlear implant she hears and speaks so well she has a way of deceiving people. If they don't see her processor, they don't know she is deaf," he said.

She wears her processor over and behind her left ear. But when her hair is worn down, it's not visible and she speaks as fluently as any other vibrant, bubbly teen.

In second grade Elena was mainstreamed into the Mt. Lebanon public schools, where she recently completed her freshman year of high school and is a member of the percussion ensemble, the dance company and was a dancer in the musical "Hello Dolly."

And, she's competed in the annual Pittsburgh Public Theater's Shakespeare Monologues contest and won in 2005 for the best scene in grades 4-7, along with her friend Megan Hosking, for doing a scene with Juliet and the nurse from Romeo and Juliet.

Marc Field, executive director for the Center for Theater Arts, has known Elena since she was 3. He said even as a toddler, she didn't let her disability slow her down.

"When she was sick and lost her hearing, it was never anything more than a minor inconvenience," Mr. Field said. "It's been an inspiration to have someone like her here."
No one gave this any interest. Personally, I have read some of her comments about oral education online and I see some ignorance in her because she's probably never experienced issues with her hearing least that is how she sounds. She can sit anywhere in a classroom and hear. No one know she's deaf unless she shows her processor.

I can see how this can give a lot of misunderstanding to those deaf who struggle and isn't successful hearing and speech wise as she is.

Read this link about her story and what she thinks


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Hi all wondering if there was a link or could be a link, on the main page that could show up only new posts or new replys to posts? Much faster way to seeing the latest activity


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There are two options:

One is to scroll to top of the screen and it shows up as option.

Other is to click the pull-down arrow next to forums on top of the screen and a window will show up with new posts option showing.
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