Abbey Buettgenbach

Abby B photo

  • Please tell us your name.

Abbey Buettgenbach

  • Are you Deaf?  Hard of Hearing?  Other?

I am deaf. I wear a hearing aid, so I tell people that I am deaf without my hearing aid and hard of hearing with my hearing aid on.

  • What mode or modes of communication do you use?

I use both oral communication and sign language.

  • Please tell us about your experience in school.  What schools did you attend for elementary school, high school and college?  What did you like and dislike about those schools?

I attended Pierce Elementary and Pierce Jr./Sr. High School. For college, I am attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

  • Please tell us about your work experiences.  What is your current job?  What other jobs have you held?  What was your favorite job?

Throughout college, I have worked for Family Service, a before and after school program for four years. I have also worked at the UNL Children’s Center, and for the Nebraska Regional Programs throughout my time at college. Currently, I am student teaching and therefore do not have a job. All of my jobs have been amazing, so I cannot say that I have a favorite. Each job brings its own perspective. At the Children’s Center, I worked with babies to preschoolers. Working at the after school program, I worked with kindergartners through fifth graders while with the Nebraska Regional Programs, I work with all ages from elementary to high school.

  • Please tell us about your hobbies and interests.

My hobbies include reading, being outdoors, and hanging out with my friends and family. My all time favorite thing to do is travel. I believe that when you travel, you find more of yourself. If I could, I would travel to a new country every year. My passion and dream job is to become a Deaf Educator within the state of Nebraska. I have a passion for teaching and wish to use my experiences as a deaf student in the mainstream schools to help me be the best deaf educator that I can be.

  • Please tell us anything else you would like to share about yourself or your family.  For example:  Are other members of your family Deaf or Hard of Hearing?  Are you married, do you have children?  

I am a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I grew up using interpreters, but my family does not sign. I am the only deaf person in my family and the only one who can sign. After I graduate, I will go on to get my Master’s degree in Deaf Education and become and Deaf Educator in Nebraska.

  • What advice do you have for children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and their families?

My advice to children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing would be to always be yourself and be proud of who you are. Also, to find someone you can relate to that is deaf or hard of hearing. This person will be your lifesaver at times. Advocate for yourself. Do not be afraid to try new things. You can do anything, be anything, and believe in anything you want to. Nothing limits you. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

My advice to families is to always be aware that just because a child wears a hearing aid or cochlear implant, does not mean they can always hear. Just a small thing like a fan running can overpower the sound of someone’s voice. Always be sure to have that person’s attention, look at them, and only then start to talk with them if signing is not a part of your communication modes. Understand that sometimes your child or family member might need some “deaf time.” Deaf time can be the person simply taking off any hearing aids or CI’s and being alone for a minute where they do not have to focus on listening and reading lips. Deaf time can also be that they need to interact with another deaf or hard of hearing person that they can relate to. Ian Noon in his article The Impact of Concentration Fatigue on Deaf Children Should Be Factored In, describes the need for “deaf time” perfectly:

“Processing and constructing meaning out of half-heard words and sentences. Making guesses and figuring out context. And then thinking of something intelligent to say in response to an invariably random question. 

It’s like doing jigsaws, Suduku and Scrabble all at the same time. 

For deaf children and young people, especially, I don’t think this impact is as widely recognised as it should be. Advice to teachers on working with deaf children tends to talk far more about language and communication, rather than concentration fatigue.

And some deaf children and young people I meet haven’t been given the space to talk about what impact deafness has on them and to work out strategies to deal with it; like taking regular breaks and being honest to grown ups that they’re tired, without fear they’ll be labelled as lazy.”

Also, be aware that if your family does not sign, going to the pool, lake, river, restaurant, amusement parks, or any other place where it is really noisy or a place where wearing a hearing aid or CI is not an option, it may not be as fun of an activity for your child. It may be really fun, but just know that it is going to be a constant struggle for them so they may become tired much faster.

Be aware. Love your child. Embrace the new culture. Believe in them.