I was born with a mild hearing loss in one ear and normal hearing in the other ear. I have a progressive hearing loss, which means I lost more and more of my hearing as I got older. I stopped losing my hearing when I was three and that’s when I started speaking. I grew up taking speech lessons and gong to hearing public schools.
When I was in 5th grade I discovered a whole other world. A world full of Deaf people that signed. This is also the year that I started losing more of my hearing and started learning American Sign Language (ASL) and asked to start using ASL interpreters at school.
At first, the school was reluctant to give me interpreters because they thought that since I could speak really well and was able to hear their voices that I wasn’t deaf enough. After attending a few meetings and explaining what I needed, the school finally decided to send me to a middle school that had interpreters.
By the time I was in 8th grade, I finally finished speech lessons and was pretty fluent in ASL. By this time, I had lost more of my hearing and was at a severe to profound range in both ears.
In 9th grade, I finally opened my eyes and realized that lots of Deaf people are being limited and don’t have the same opportunities as hearing people. I met an amazing Deaf woman named Emma Faye who is an advocate for Deaf people and has a nonprofit. That’s when I started talking to my mom about helping other Deaf people. I started researching what I could do to help other people. I wanted to find a way to help Deaf people follow their dreams.
I started going to schools to speak and educate the kids of what it means to be Deaf. Elementary kids never fail to amaze me with their knowledge of what Deaf means and how we communicate. Growing up kids would always ask what was in my ears and why I needed them, so it was nice to see how this generation is growing up knowing more. I also started speaking at school board meetings because I felt that they are not providing the things Deaf students need in order to succeed. I’m speaking up because I’m tired of hearing “oh you speak so well, you’re hearing” or teachers saying, “sorry this video doesn’t have captions” and the biggest thing, “oh your Deaf, you can’t do it”. We may not be able to hear but that doesn’t mean we are incapable of doing everything hearing people can do. Most recently I was invited to attend the Texas Governors Committee on Disabilities board meeting. This was very exciting for me! I spoke to the board about the lack of sufficient captions in school settings and the lack of ASL fluency in AI Teachers. I am now working with TEA to resolve some of these issues and hope to be able to make some much needed changes.
When I was younger, I had always thought modeling would be fun, but it always seemed like something impossible. Recently I decided to try modeling and I sent out a post asking for photographers and Tim Bear reached out to me. I was surprised by how much he had to offer and was a little nervous going up to Waco to meet him. I had my first ever photoshoot experience with Tim Bear, he provided me with a makeup artist and dresses. I had a lot of fun with him! He had so many creative ideas and I loved all of the pictures he took. After meeting him and getting the feel of the place, I immediately felt comfortable and started strutting my stuff. After the photoshoot my parents, Tim Bear, and I had a meeting and he offered me a modeling contract with his agency Modelemi Modeling Agency. I took some time to think about it, because it is a very big commitment, but in the end, I went ahead and signed the contract. I am very happy to say that I have had my first shoot with a small magazine!
This year I started 10th grade. I opened a club at my school where I taught hearing kids ASL. I took inspiration from Emma Faye and decided to open my own nonprofit so that I can help Deaf people follow their dreams. I am so happy to say that I am the proud founder of Deaf Dreams! I hope to use this nonprofit to help other Deaf and Hard of Hearing people follow their Dreams. It is very important to me that the younger Deaf and Hard of Hearing kids that are coming behind me don’t ever see their hearing loss as something that limits them or defines them, but instead that they learn to embrace it as a part of who they are.
Now here I am, Kaylee Lartigue a Deaf girl with a severe to profound hearing loss in both ears, who also became Deaf Girl Evolution, and who fights for Deaf rights. I want people to remember that regardless of your ability or disability you too CAN Be More & Do More!