Future Reflections Summer 1996, Vol. 15 No. 3


Deaf Student Has Full Schedule At Olathe East
Keri Ann Ruemmler Doesn't Let Physical Handicaps Get in the Way of Being a Good Student

by Suzanne Vega

[PICTURE] Kerri Ann Ruemmler

Reprinted from the May, 1996, issue of the Braille Monitor.

Editor's Note: The following story appeared in the November 22, 1995, issue of The Hawk's Eye, the monthly newspaper at Olathe East High School. Keri Ann Ruemmler is deaf-blind; she is also a busy, normal teen-ager carrying a full academic load in high school and an after-school job. Her mother, Sally Ruemmler, is an active member of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, a division of the National Federation of the Blind.

Thinking about giving up at school? Read this, then think again.

Keri went to the Kansas School for the Deaf for one year when she was very young. Then she attended a blind school for a year.

Her favorite school, however, was the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis. It's an oral school for the deaf. There Ruemmler learned to talk better.

Ruemmler enjoys school at OE and hasn't had too many problems adapting to high school.

"The kids talk to me," she said, indicating that friendly students have helped her. "But, it's loud at break," said Keri. It might sound contradictory for a hearing-impaired person to comment about it being too loud during break. However, background noise is a big problem for Ruemmler.

If someone is talking to her when there is a high level of background noise, she can't understand very well.

Ruemmler wears a cochlear implant to help her hear better, and she's taking classes to read Braille because of her vision.

On top of her hearing problem, Ruemmler has tunnel vision. To her, objects appear very small, almost the size of a dime; and she can't see at night very well.

Despite her handicaps Ruemmler appears to be doing well in her classes.

"She really is an exceptional young lady. She comes into a hands-on class and competes with the students. She's getting a B+, and that's the grade she has earned," said Sandra Keating, computer teacher.

Ruemmler is very exceptional. She has a wonderfully optimistic attitude; she doesn't give up at school. If she doesn't understand, she just tries again until she can do it.

"Keri is very outgoing. She tries to communicate with me a lot and with the kids in the class, and that amazes me," said Keating.

Ruemmler even has a job at Treasury Drug. She stocks the merchandise and cleans. Ruemmler is a very normal teen-ager with normal hobbies and activities. "I like to go to the movies, watch TV, talk on the phone," said Ruemmler.

Luck explained that Keri's telephone is equipped with a TTY device. It's a phone designed for the deaf. Terry Luck is a great help. She is an interpreter who is assigned to accompany Ruemmler to all of her classes. After high school Ruemmler plans to become a teacher.