Colleen Richart

Colleen Richart photo

  • Please tell us your name.

Colleen Richart

  • Are you Deaf?  Hard of Hearing?  Other? 

Hard of Hearing

  • What mode or modes of communication do you use? 

Total Communication – Meaning I can communicate by sign language, oral or both.

  • 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 went to Omaha Public Schools, so the schools I went to were Western Hills, Washington Elementary, Lewis and Clark Jr High, then one year at Burke. My family and I moved to Bellevue, so I transferred to Bellevue West High School and graduated in year 2000.   I attended Metro Community College for 2 years, then decided to transfer to UNO, took 4 years and once again my young self at the time changed her mind and finally graduated from Bellevue University in 2008 in Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems.

Likes: I enjoyed being with my deaf/hh peers because I can compare myself with them and communicate easier.   I grew up mainstreamed and I had a resource room with other kids to allow me to focus on tests or have speech therapy.  I liked my high school in Bellevue because I had amazing support, my resource/deaf educator and my Drama teacher – she was the reason that I am no longer quiet or have fear of doing a speech in front of people.  I ended up doing musicals, and speech competitions and have won 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in them. I am not shy anymore! 🙂  I also liked Bellevue University better than the other colleges.  I took one class per month instead of 4 classes, and it allowed me to focus on one thing at a time. It is an accelerated program but it’s more of my pace.  I kept getting mad at myself, why didn’t I do this earlier because it was so easy to focus on one subject instead of 4!  Consider that as a life lesson at the time.

Dislike: We all have our own dislikes at certain schools but I do not want to point them out because it would not be fair and this was in the 90s so I don’t want everyone to perceive schools differently based on my experiences.  Although, I am not a fan of large crowds, so that’s why I liked Bellevue University better than UNO.

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

I am currently in the process of being hired and cannot disclose until I know the start date, but I am really excited to share once it’s confirmed!   My previous jobs, I started off working as an Intern for Department of Defense for 7 years during my college years.  It was a great experience working closely with military and civilians and I learned many different skills during my time there.  Once I graduated from college, there weren’t any openings at Department of Defense, but also at that time, I had my 2nd child so I chose to be a stay at home mother.  Best decision ever.   After 6 years, I was ready to look for a job.  I had the opportunity to work as a Program Coordinator for Guide by Your Side with Nebraska Hands & Voices for 2 years.  I helped get the program up and running for Nebraska. It is a wonderful program and I still strongly support it for new families!     I also worked with COSTCO Wholesale for a little while to help open the new Store in La-Vista.

It is hard to pick favorites, but there are a lot of favorite aspects of each job I had such as learning how to design websites for the Department of Defense, to managing a State-Wide program with grants and meeting a lot of people and families, and then canvassing with your coworkers for COSTCO.

  • Please tell us about your hobbies and interests.

I’m a huge golf fan.  Before kids, I would golf weekly.  Now, I could barely get one in for the season!  Now that my children are older, they are interested so I am excited for spring so I can bring them with me and go golfing together as a family.   We also like playing board games and video games with the kids.   I am always interested in learning new technology out there, new apps as well.    I just enjoy quiet time at home with the kids.  We do also like to swim a lot as well.   We also enjoy going to movies and vacations when we have time in our schedules. 🙂

  • 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 currently married for 10 years with an awesome husband named Steve. We also have two children,  Evelyn – Age 9 and Dade – Age 8. They are 10.5 months apart and yes they are Irish twins!  🙂  Evelyn is born deaf and she also does total communication (sign language, oral or both).  Dade can hear fine, sometimes I swear he doesn’t hear me (selective hearing of course). He also communicates well in sign language.  I also taught my husband some sign language so we are pretty much try working together as a family to communicate more effectively in whatever language we use. One day, we would be signing only at dinner time, so we do that.  Or both, or just talking.   The more exposure to language, the better.

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

For Parents: As a mother of two children, ADVOCATE for your children, no matter what the circumstances are. Always go with your gut, you know your child the best.  My husband and I work together as a team, especially with IEPs.  Always come prepared, spend some time with reviewing, write down questions, goals that are needed for your child and stand up for yourself and for your child.   It goes a long way.   Never be afraid to ask for help or advice from other parents, or professionals – they have experiences as well and you can be able to use it to help your child.   Your child will grow and their learning style is always changing, their goals, their language so it is not just one thing.  It is constantly changing and adapting so find what works for your child now, and then next year, it may not work so find a different way.  There is always a way, it is a work in progress.  Heck, I’m still a work in progress as a mother, kids’ appetite is always changing, just like at school for IEPs.  🙂

I also have my daughter get involved in activities that are for children who are deaf and hard of hearing in the community.  It’s amazing how quickly they form friendships.  This year, she was able to go overnight activities and she had a blast.   I wished I had that growing up because I wanted to go to Space Camp.  I will never get that opportunity so I promised myself that our daughter needs that experience growing up to make life long friendships through these activities.    She went to her FIRST Deaf/Hard of hearing camp in Minnesota last summer and it was well worth it.  We plan to go again this year and we also found a camp for our son so he also gets the experience as just being a kid!