Richmond, Va. –
Growing up a deaf woman in a hearing society is not without its challenges, but Patricia “Trix” Bruce has risen to those challenges and overcome them with aplomb. She has since made it her mission to help educate the hearing community and deaf interpreters about the most productive and rewarding ways to communicate and engage with deaf people.
Ahead of Women’s Equality Day, the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Customer Operations Directorate, in conjunction with the Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Office, welcomed deaf poet, actress and motivational speaker Bruce to share her story of success and determination at a lunch-and-learn workshop Aug. 8.
Bruce was born with hearing capabilities but became deaf after contracting meningitis at six months old. She described herself as a child with low self-esteem but with a stubborn streak, a characteristic that would prove beneficial in adulthood.
“I had a lot of struggles over the past 20 years,” Bruce said. “I didn’t want to be different; I didn’t look different. It became an invisible disability until I started talking.”
Despite her struggles, Bruce said, she became involved in teaching, took American Sign Language classes, and decided to start a business to share her knowledge with interpreters. She attempted to write a book but was turned down by a publisher. “It broke my heart when the publisher denied me. But someone suggested I make videos, so I did—and they took off,” she said.
Bruce has made 13 DVDs and is actively pursuing a career in film. Her advice to the audience was to “follow your heart. Write down the things that inspire you.” Interestingly, after her videos became successful, the publisher reached out again and offered to revisit the book idea. Bruce turned them down.
She also wants to help hospitals acquire more deaf interpreters. Her dream, she said, is to write proposals on how and why hospitals should add interpreters to their staffs.
Her overarching goal continues to be helping the hearing community better communicate with deaf people. Jacqueline Roberts, photographer, DLA Installation Operations Richmond who attended the event, said she learned a great deal about the issue. “A person who is hearing should be educated on how to communicate,” she said. “Although [deafness] is looked at as an impairment, the visual language is a form of learning that most hearing people also learn by.”
Women’s Equality Day is observed on August 26. It was created in 1971 at the request of Rep. Bella Abzug to celebrate the achievement of the U.S. suffrage movement—the ratification of the 19th Amendment, cementing the right for women to vote. Women’s Equality Day also represents continuing efforts toward full equality for women.