Mike Antoine grew up in a small mining and logging community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He has a diverse educational background having studied pre medical studies, biology, chemistry, and mechanical engineering. Accomplished in his field, Mike has held various full-time engineering positions and worked part-time as a Millwork Specialist Instructor for Home Depot. Mike is passionate about woodworking, design, yard work, and automotive work. An avid skier, he is a certified Professional Ski Instructor, and a member and volunteer of the National Ski Patrol, Central Division. In what spare time he has left, Mike finds joy in training and fostering puppies.
Born out of the Rubella epidemic, Mike tested as Deaf in his left ear at the age of 6. At the age of 23, Mike experienced a sensorineural hearing loss in his right ear that was caused by exposure to loud noise as an inspector on high rise construction. In support of International Week of the Deaf, Mike has shared his experiences with us through the following interview:
What was your experience like in school growing up?
I would say I did have some disadvantages not being able to hear things on my left side, I don’t know what Stereo sounds like. I was treated by others no differently or special needs required.
What was your experience like in university?
College years after my severe hearing loss was probably the best experience I ever had in my life. Attending [Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Institute of the Deaf], I was in my comfort zone and in the prime of my life. I was studying Engineering which was a true calling and came naturally so studying was a breeze. I met probably the best friends one could ask for and are lifetime friends both hearing and deaf.
At RIT I was exposed to other Deaf people and learned so much from these students that gave me strategies in different situations at work and life. I believe the environment in which I was at that time helped me socially and emotionally. I’ve just experience a severe hearing loss in my right ear. Everyone around me was in the same boat, new experience, new people, college life, stresses.
Do you use any assistive technology or assistive devices?
You Betcha! I [have] seen assistive technology come a long way. Closed Captions on TV and in theaters. E-mail is probably the most important technology to come about in the working field. I [have] always suffered using the simple phone. It not only helped Deaf but other hearing people in the working world. It evened the communication barrier, it allowed you to communicate immediately or in a timely manner if you were busy. Then came the ultimate, Cell Phones! The ability to [send] text messages, is and still is a blessing to myself. You can send a photo, video, or typed message. In the future I am sure there will be other great advances in communication technology.
Might this question be interpreted as using a hearing aid? Yes, I’ve seen advances in the last 33 years. I am currently losing what residual hearing I have, and will be undergoing a Cochlear Implant soon.
Do you feel there has been any major changes or advances with the Deaf Community from when you were younger? What are they?
All communities are becoming more aware of people with Handicaps. Overhead monitor displays, Close Caption monitors in Public places. Things are more visual in Public spaces rather than vocal announcements.
What is something you wish you could let others know about being Deaf?
Hearing people, be understanding. Make sure you’re facing and looking at the deaf person when addressing them, rephrase words if they’re not understanding. Deaf people, don’t be afraid to ask to have things repeated. (my nick name to some is “Repeat Mike”).
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Life is a box of Chocolates; you never know what you’ll get! What a saying eh? Life is full of challenges for everyone not just the deafblind, you take what it gives you and learn to change or adapt. It’s human nature to excel in life, never settle for someone to tell you that you can’t do something. You would be surprised of what you can accomplish in life.
Thank you for sharing, Mike!