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East Carolina University seniors Hillary Pearce, left, and Lindsay Dozier, right, worked together to create ECU Silent Pirates, a student organization that teaches others about deaf culture and American Sign Language.

Hillary Pearce: Sharing information about the deaf culture

Hillary Pearce plans to take her skills and experiences from ECU to become CEO of her family’s business.

When Pearce was three years old, she was diagnosed with hearing loss and began wearing hearing aids. As a youngster, she was not yet aware that the new “toys” in her ears were there to assist her and not to be misplaced.

After Pearce temporarily lost one hearing aid at a birthday party, her mother Jennifer Kearns decided to make tools to help keep the devices in place.

Kearns founded the family business, The Ear Connection, in an effort to keep her daughter’s hearing aids in place. The Ear Connection is a hearing and eyewear instruments retention products company that creates accessories to hold disability aids like eyeglasses and hearing aids in place.


Lindsay Dozier: Determined to make a difference

Lindsay Dozier’s passion to care for and give back to the community inspires her.

“I feel like my mission (in life) is to make difference in the community, especially the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,” said Dozier.

When Dozier was two months old, her parents learned that she was hard-of-hearing and immediately researched ways that the hearing loss would affect her ability to learn and communicate. “My mother took a sign language class so she could communicate with me better and my father insisted he would develop my remaining capacity to hear,” said Dozier.

With age, Dozier became more aware of her hearing challenge during her speech therapy courses. She said it took her a while to accept the challenge. Now at East Carolina University, Dozier works with others in the community to teach them more about the deaf culture and the basics of American Sign Language.



Editor's Note:  While ECU News Services respects the traditional capitalization of the word "deaf" in reference to the deaf community and the deaf culture, our stories are written in AP style, which calls for a lower case 'd' in this reference.

Communication Tips

Hillary and Lindsay provided some basic suggestions for effective communication with a person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing:

  • Speak to them in visible light

  • Do not speak while standing behind the deaf or hard-of-hearing person

  • Do not exaggerate mouth movements while speaking

  • Avoid saying "never mind," "I'll tell you later," or "It wasn't important" when asked to repeat part of the conversation as that makes the deaf or hard-of-hearing person feel excluded from the conversation

  • Be respectful, include them and do not treat them differently.


Proud to be Pirates

ECU Silent Pirates hosts guest speakers and signing socials for those interested in learning more about deaf culture.  Above, Pearce and Dozier demonstrate communication through sign language. (Video by Cliff Hollis)