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Tampa educator champions deaf and hard-of-hearing community | News

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Overcoming Challenges: Patti Sanchez’s Journey to Advocating for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

Patti Sanchez: Overcoming Hearing Loss to Advocate for Deaf Community

Patti Sanchez’s journey began at just 3 years old when she contracted German measles, resulting in severe hearing loss. By age 6, she had already lost 80% of her hearing. Despite these challenges, Patti’s parents provided unwavering support, instilling in her a sense of confidence and determination that would shape her future.

Now, as a successful business educator, Patti uses her experiences to provide diversity training to corporate companies on deaf culture and accommodation for deaf individuals in the workplace. Her passion for advocacy stems from her upbringing, where she witnessed her mother’s dedication to serving the underrepresented Hispanic community in the education system.

Inspired by her mother’s advocacy work, Patti pursued a career in business and graduated as one of the first hard-of-hearing students from Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers. She continued to excel in her education, earning a bachelor’s degree in business management and gaining valuable experience in various community service roles.

Patti’s dedication to advocating for the deaf and hard of hearing community has not gone unnoticed. She has been recognized as a Community Hero by the Tampa Bay Lightning and has received multiple awards for her outstanding community service.

Despite her achievements, Patti continues to face misconceptions and challenges within the deaf community. She fights against stereotypes that perpetuate misunderstandings, such as assumptions that hard-of-hearing individuals are completely deaf or less intelligent. These misconceptions contribute to communication barriers, limited access to information and healthcare, and social isolation.

Patti acknowledges the progress made in the Tampa Bay area to support the deaf community but emphasizes the need for greater awareness and outreach efforts. She calls for businesses to increase accessibility, promote inclusive hiring practices, and provide training and sensitivity to create a more inclusive environment for deaf individuals.

“We can’t live backward as we are in Florida. We need to improve our lives to make everything more effective. We need equality. We need communication accessibility. Why do we need to struggle?” Patti’s powerful words reflect her unwavering commitment to advocating for the deaf community and creating a more inclusive society for all.

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