Youngest deaf uni student in China now US social advocate
- Source: Global Times
- [22:43 May 19 2011]
Zhou Tingting posing on the famous Lombard Street of San Francisco, US. Photo: courtesy of Zhou Tingting
By Wen Ya
At 31 years old, Zhou Tingting's story is already the stuff of legends. Once the youngest-ever deaf college student in China, Tingting has accomplished more with her disability than most normal people do in their whole lives.
Born into a worker's family in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, Tingting was partly deaf at birth and at age 1 was rendered completely deaf due to complications with treatment for a high fever.
Searching day and night for a cure, Tingting's parents eventually resigned themselves to the fact that their daughter would be deaf – and therefore without hope – for the rest of her life.
"My love for my daughter isn't conditional," Zhou Hong, Tingting's father and the founder of the Guangzhou-based Appreciation Education Research Center, told the Global Times. "Even if there was only a sliver of hope for her, I'd fight for it until my last breath."
Learning to function
The first step was teaching Tingting to read, write and possibly to speak. Via a great deal of practice, at age 3 she managed to intone simple words, and by age 6 she'd learned 2,000 Chinese characters.
Zhou Hong then threw himself into the task of honing his daughter's pronunciation skills, and in an arduous process got her skills up to a level he'd never imagined she'd be able to reach.
Now, according to an e-mail interview with Tingting, she can communicate "basically at the level of a normal person."
"As long as we're face-to-face and the person is close to me and speaking clearly, I can 'hear' them just fine, and respond as well," she wrote. "It's gotten to the point where people won't know I'm deaf at the outset."