Even as a child, Jorge Delgado never let hearing loss hold him back. Now the La Sierra High School senior is gaining widespread attention for helping other students and teachers break through auditory barriers in school with the help of technology.
Delgado will be recognized this April in Boston with the Yes I Can! Award at the International Council for Exceptional Children (ICEC) Annual Conference in the technology category. The Alvord Unified School District student was named the California honoree for Yes I Can! in December 2016 in San Diego.
Jorge was born with congenital atresia which caused hearing loss in his left ear, something he explains in his award winning video (please see film).
“Jorge used a sense of humor and charming smile to deflect when he had not heard an entire conversation,” said Theresa Copple, who works with deaf and hard of hearing students for the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE).
His young life was filled with surgeries and advancing technology to aid better hearing.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to hear through my left ear,” he said. “That was impossible until after 11 surgeries, I got the opportunity with a BAHA Band.” BAHA stands for “Bone Anchored Hearing Aid” that involves wearing a headband and a device that rests behind his ear. He was fitted for the device last August, and the results amazed him.
“I broke into tears,” he said. “I was finally able to feel what other people feel when they listen. Even the most little things, I was able to hear.”
Always experimenting, he connected his hearing device by Bluetooth technology to his phone and his music. He was so excited he began to invite other deaf and hard of hearing students to try new technology that would improve their lives.
“He encouraged other deaf and hard of hearing students by talking about his own experiences and spread his excitement,” said Copple.
Copple and Alvord USD teacher Kathleen Tejeda started a pilot program to put special sound equipment in classrooms at La Sierra High School to help not only hard of hearing students like Jorge, but all students. Jorge jumped at the chance to help.
Jorge created an informative video for teachers showing them how to use the equipment and demonstrated the devices when they were installed.
Beyond the classroom, Jorge is involved in a variety of groups on campus. He is president of the sign language club, serves on a special district panel that meets with the district superintendent on behalf of students several times a year, and is part of the health academy. These college prep courses offer Jorge unique hands-on academic experiences that lead to a career in the medical field. Jorge is currently working at Kaiser Permanente as part of the health academy partnership.
Jorge credits his doctor with not only helping him hear better, but as his role model and his inspiration to pursue a career in medicine. He will attend the Rochester Institute for Technology in New York after high school and wants to become either a registered nurse or a doctor.