Can you imagine what it would be like to regain your sense of hearing … after years of silence? One man’s story, as well as questions — within the deaf community — about whether deafness is something that requires correction.


Rob Jefferson

Rob Jefferson started losing his hearing when he was in his late teens. Sensorineural hearing loss, a progressive degenerative condition, runs in his family. His hearing gradually declined over a few decades, and though he was able to use conventional hearing aids for a few years, Jefferson, who's now 56, had lost all his natural hearing ability by his late 40s.

On this edition of Up to Date, we explore Charles Hyer's footwear innovation and how his choice of employees boosted a deaf community.


  • Sandra Kelly, executive director of the Deaf Cultural Center Foundation in Olathe.

The Deaf Cultural Center hosts the 2nd biennial Boots and BBQ Un-Gala from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Heritage Center, 1200 E. Kansas City Road in Olathe. 

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

It’s common knowledge that a child’s first years are critical for language development.

But what if that child is deaf and has parents who don’t know sign language?

Chriz Dally, a board member of the Kansas Association of the Deaf, posed that scenario last month at a meeting of state officials and members of the National Council on Disability.

There was a time when a child born deaf had few choices. For more than a century, the only option for parents was to send their son or daughter away to a boarding school for the deaf. There, the children and the schools thrived in the shadows, embracing a distinct culture of silent communication.

Recent advances in medicine and technology are now reshaping what it means to be deaf in America. Children who could never hear a sound are now adults who can hear everything. That's having a dramatic impact on the nation's historic deaf schools as well as the lives of people.