Jeff grew up in Louisiana and went to a mainstreamed setting for school. At that time, there were no interpreters due to scant resources. This was back in the late 1970’s. He did the best he could watching the teachers and reading the materials on his own. His mother also helped out a lot. His parents were divorced and he moved with his mom to New Orleans. His father was three hours away in Lafayette. In New Orleans, he went to an oral program for 7th and 8th grade. It was frustrating to not be able to sign, but it was better than his experience in elementary school.
For a high school option, his parents considered the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in DC. It was a hard choice for his parents to send him so far away, but it seemed to be the best option. They figured he would later go on to Gallaudet anyway, so they thought this would be good preparation. Jeff knew only a bit of sign from summer camp, and so had some hesitation about going. But from the moment he stepped in the door, he loved it. He appreciated the direct communication and the ability to take part in group discussions. It was a rich experience.
From there, he went on to Gallaudet which was more of the same but with more independence and responsibility. He met Heidi there during his Senior year (he spent two years as a senior). He hated to leave Gallaudet. But went out to CSD to do an internship. They encouraged him to go back to DC to finish his degree. He completed his coursework fall semester, and then graduated with his classmates in May. After that, he moved back to Sioux Falls and has been working at CSD for 5 years.