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Fall 2009 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Crystal Morales, Austin,TX

Abstract: A young adult with deafblindness shares her journey, shared with her twin sister, growing up with high expectations and encouragement from their mother.

Keywords: Family Wisdom, deafblindness, self-determination, musician

When our Mom, Cynthia, was told her little girls would never make it, she said a prayer: “I will be the best Mother I can. Please let my little girls survive.” As a young adult mother to two disabled children she had no idea what was to come. My twin sister Danielle and I were born three months early to meet the world barely even surviving. From having heart surgery at four hours old to having lung disease and multiple other conditions, it was quite stressful, scary, and dramatic.

After many years of medical appointments, physical therapy, medications, speech therapy and special education, we graduated high school at the age of twenty as two eager, motivated, and confident deafblind young adults. While in high school we received great help from deafblind specialists, Braille instructors, and Orientation and Mobility teachers, as well as obtaining assistance from the Texas Commission for the Blind. We knew it would be hard to go to college with disabilities, but knew it was something we wanted, following behind our Mother’s footsteps. She stressed how important it was to be educated, find ways to do something no matter how hard, and to never give up.

From age six we loved composing music, writing songs everyday together. As we grew up, so did our music abilities, and we begun performing for small audiences until we put together a concert professionally. We have performed for colleges and universities; on radio stations and a local news station’s live music section; at private events; and even in coffee shops and local music stores. Although we enjoyed this so much, hearing difficulties started making it hard to hear and enjoy our compositions.

Both Danielle and I were born with congenital Nystagmus, Strabismus, Ambliopia and several other conditions of the eyes along with hearing impairment. Mom was told by doctors that we would both be totally deaf and blind by the age of twenty-one, and probably not survive until that age. Mom would stay up at night just crying herself to sleep. Doctors were telling her of horrible conditions and diseases that could eventually kill us.

She found the strength to help us find ways to go to school, even home-schooling for a short time. Danielle and I were also having some trouble with mild seizures that would interrupt our day up to 20 times, leaving us tired and distracted. Those became worse as we got older too; but with all of these things going on, we would remember that one phrase Mom would say, “All things possible girls.”

We would eventually compose two CDs of original compositions. We just had to make our first CD with the title “All Things Possible” and our second CD “Meditations”. Mom was scared we would lose all of our hearing within the next few years, and wanted to capture our music before it did. Although we did lose a lot of hearing, we never let it stop us. Currently we both have profound hearing loss along with severe vision impairments and epilepsy that do make things hard, but not always impossible.

Today we still compose music in our modified music studio that is accessible. All of our speakers, amplifiers, and Eq machines make it possible for us to hear our music, even though we don’t hear in all the ranges. All of our keyboards, synthesizers, and recording devices are marked in Braille and have hand-brailled manuals and menu pages. Our acoustic instruments, such as the violin, cello, bass, and hammered dulcimer, are individually tuned and mic’d so that we can hear them. We can even connect our FM system to the amp, so that it sends the signal to our hearing aids wirelessly. Even though we had to figure these things on our own, it sure does make us feel good knowing that we can be self-sufficient and creative.

We knew that there would be a way for us to continue composing no matter how bad our hearing or vision would get. Nothing would stop us. This is what we believe today and continue to find new ways to do things. Whether composing music, traveling around the city of Austin, learning sign language and Braille, learning how to meet others like ourselves, or making great friends with many abilities, we live life energetically! Like Mom always said, “All Things are Possible.”

Editor’s note: You can explore some of Crystal and Danielle’s music on the web at .