Dear Mr. President,
My name is Ambriance Lamar, I am 17 years old and a senior in high school. Unfortunately, at the age of 2 years old on July on 2000 I was bitten by a mosquito and contracted the West Nile Virus, which I contracted encephalitis. I was hospitalized at MUSC in Charleston for 8 weeks. As a result, I was paralyzed on my left side. Due to not being able to open my mouth I had to be fed through an NG tube, which was through my nose that was hooked to a machine that was filed with nothing but liquids. Eventually, with a lot of prayer, faith and therapy I began to walk again and was able to eat solid foods. However, I never regained full use of my voice. My voice and pronunciation of some words is very low. I still suffer from some brain, nerve damage and some paralysis as a result of the encephalitis. Therefore, I do not speak. I use my phone and sign language to communicate with my teachers, peers, and family. As you are reading this letter you are probably thinking why am I writing this letter to you? Well, I am writing you this letter due to a recent event that occurred on August 21, 2016. A deaf and mute male was shot by a police officer in North Carolina, because of a miscommunication between the policeman and the male. This event has really devastated me, now I am fearful and petrified because I am non-verbal. Situations like this keep reoccurring between officers and people who are deaf and speech-impaired. I’m pretty sure those people who are deaf and others who are speech-impaired like myself are basically afraid for their life right now because of the communication barrier between police and the citizens of the United States who have disabilities. Therefore, I feel there need to be some things put into place for people who are like me (speech impaired) and others who are Deaf. This is not the first Deaf and speech-impaired person who has gotten shot or have had a police officer use excessive force on them when trying to tell the officer they are deaf or have a disability with their speech. This event really had me irritated because in all police academies cops are taught if they come in contact with a deaf person or a person who uses sign language to communicate via specialized assistance. They are instructed to call an agency that will send out an interpreter to help you relay the correct message to the person. However, since no one is brave enough and doesn’t have the courage to speak up for people who are deaf or people who are speech impaired, I feel I will take the stand and be a leader and an advocate for my people who use the same language as I do, which is sign language and help protect us from being misunderstood by our peers. In sign language we use our hands, facial expressions, and body gestures to communicate. Often times law enforcement officers view these actions as resisting arrest. This then turns into violence because police officers misunderstand and automatically go into defense mode when a person moves or reaches for something. I don’t blame them for that they also have the right to defend their self, but at the same time they have to realize everybody in this world is not the same, everybody in this world doesn’t have the ability to speak, or hear just like everybody else and they also communicate differently so they need to take that into consideration. Here are the things I think should be put in place people who are deaf or speech-impaired. The DMV should put an alert into the driver’s license system when people come to get or renew their license and a tag for their vehicle indicating that the person is either Deaf or speech-impaired. So if a police officer stops them and runs their tag number it will have an alarm letting the police officer know, so there would be no miscommunication and the cop can call for an interpreter to translate to the person to explain why they were stopped. Also I feel police officers need to be trained on what to expect from people who use sign language. There also needs to be an app for phones so in case of an emergency they can text the police or ambulance and the app can automatically notify them that they either are speech-impaired or deaf and to tell that they need assistance and they can communicate the issue. Another reason I doing this because as I mention before I am a leader and despite what I been through in my life with being bullied and made fun of in school and people being rude to me and mean. But mostly being different from the other kids and being excluded from different things because of my disability and through it all I still standing and I am functioning in a regular class setting and on the honor roll. But I honestly want to show that despite if you have a disability you can be a leader and change the world and work hard for success and don’t give up on your dreams because, I don’t accept less I always strive for the best and I never accept defeat. So if I can do it and I’m positive kids and adults with disabilities can do it to you just got to believe in yourself and accept you are different and you are okay with it. The main key to success is have confidence and feel good about yourself. And if you have a disability do think yourself as a handicap because you are not. The way I define disability is D-driven, I-intelligent, S-special person, A-amazing, B-brave, I-inspirational, L-lovable, I-ingenious, T-talented, and Y-youthful because I like to see all things in a positive way never in a negative way because if you have a positive mindset anything is possible, but if you have a negative mindset you will not go nowhere in life you will never move up the latter of success. Also you will stay in one spot on the latter of success, until you change your mindset and start looking at things in a positive way. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this letter.