I don’t teach in a classroom, I teach underwater; in oceans, rivers, lakes like this, springs, grottos, and many more!
First, let me explain why I started scuba diving. It all started with NBL, Neutral Buoyancy Lab, in Houston, Texas. I wanted to check out and visit NASA but the one near my home is kind of shoddy and they had one in Texas with underwater set ups for astronauts to do mock training on building things in space. This is done underwater because the environment is similar to space. Then, my focus shifted to becoming an instructor. I noticed many diving workshops don’t understand how to work with those who are deaf, and often exclude them for safety. So I decided to become an instructor and started Aquahands for direct communication to Deaf people and people who know ASL.
How does signing underwater make a big difference in relation to your work?
Amazing. Your business has been up and running 7 years now, right? Wow!
So, obviously, a huge advantage is being able to sign underwater -- can you tell us how this has impacted or made a difference in the work that you do?
Definitely! A favorite story of my mine was when I was teaching a couple who were both CODAs, children of deaf adults. I took them out to Key Largo in south Florida -- Florida Keys. While diving, one of them was struggling with pressure in her ears which I was able to give instructions and help with the problem without coming back up to the surface. This allowed us to continue our diving experience. The standard rule is that everyone must come back up to the surface after about 10 minutes underwater. But with me, the dive can last another 30-40 minutes with more time to enjoy the dive. By using ASL we can address any issues that come up.
Oh yeah. When I first started my company I would often fly out to different places to teach. I wanted to see the deaf community -- the deaf scuba diving community flourish. Back then there were only a small number of us. I wanted to change that and see this community grow. I love scuba diving.
Did you know that the world’s surface is 71% water? You miss out if you’re not able to explore underwater. If you drive on 295 in Washington, DC, all you see is flora. Green is the only color around, but underwater, there’s a wide array of colors. So, yeah, I stopped flying all over the place because it was becoming tiring. It took time away from being with my growing family. I shifted my focus and started investing in those who wanted to become instructors. Now I have 9 instructors here in the U.S. and 1 in the U.K.
So, if you’re looking for your next great adventure, consider scuba diving! You can learn to dive and become certified by taking classes with PADI and Aqua Hands, whose staff are Deaf, and fluent in ASL.