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Winter 2002 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

My First Scuba Diving Lesson

By Lee Ann Bryan, Amarillo, Texas

Editor's note: Lee Ann is deafblind because of congenital rubella syndrome. In 1965, she was born blind with cataracts and has had a total of twenty-three eye surgeries, as well as heart surgery at the age of six weeks. Her parents also suspected a hearing loss, which was confirmed when she was sixteen months old. When Lee Ann was two-and-a-half, a doctor told them that she would never learn anything, but she has proven him wrong. In 1972, Lee Ann was the first student accepted at TSBVI's Deaf-Blind Annex. She returned to Amarillo in 1977, and graduated from school there. For the past four years she has taken exercise, art and reading classes at Amarillo College, where she's improved her reading from a second to seventh grade level. Lee Ann is very interested in sharks, and has been to Sea World in Texas, Florida and California. For a long time, she's wanted to open a Sea World in Amarillo and "swim with the sharks." Learning how to scuba dive is her next step towards achieving what some might consider an impossible goal. We'll see what happens. So far, Lee Ann has defied other people's ideas about what she can accomplish.

I first read about scuba diving in a magazine in 1986. I want to learn how to scuba dive so I can catch crabs and swim with baby sharks and big whales.

My mother arranged my lesson with Mike Beezley (my instructor) and his wife. I took the class on August 3, 2001 in Mr. Beezley's back yard. He has a 4-foot deep above ground pool. There were no other students in the class. My lesson lasted about 30 minutes.

Helen Porter, who has been my interpreter for more than 20 years, helped me and Mr. Beezley communicate with each other. She is afraid of water, though, and could not go in the pool. Melody (Mr. Beezley's daughter) knows how to sign, and she went underwater with me.

I was excited to see how I could do in the water with scuba gear. I did good! First, Mr. Beezley and Melody helped me put on the scuba gear. Next, Melody told me how to go underwater and move around. Then, I lost my mouthpiece. Since I don't know how to panic or be scared, I closed my mouth, felt around till I found the mouthpiece and put it back in my mouth. I didn't swallow water or choke. Mr. Beezley said I was incredible, and a friend of his who is a scuba diver said I was awesome.


Lee Ann gets ready for her first scuba lesson. Lee Ann gets ready for her first scuba lesson.

My most exciting experience in scuba class was wearing a face mask that let me keep my contact lenses in so I could see under water. There was nothing scary about my lesson. Besides having my own nurse shark ("Sharky", who lived from January, 1990 until December, 1995) it was the most wonderful, exciting thing I've ever done.

Since my class only lasted 30 minutes, I'll need many more lessons before I can really dive. When it becomes warmer next spring, I want to take classes again, then swim with the sharks!

Lee Ann signs, "I love you" underwater. Lee Ann signs, "I love you" underwater.

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Last Revision: July 30, 2002