JHBI Deaf/Blind Teenager’s Co-Pilot Experience
“Only the Sky’s the Limit”
Katie Inman, a 15 year old student at Florida School for the Deaf and Blind and patient at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute (JHBI), recently experienced the ride of a lifetime when she was able to assist with flying a Piper PA-28 plane. This opportunity was arranged by the non-profit group Operation PROP (People Reaching Outrageous Potential). Since then, Katie has not stopped talking about her adventure. What makes this so special is that Katie has been legally blind since birth, and lost her hearing seven years ago. Her speech became unintelligible and she struggled to communicate. She needed to rely on sign language that she “read” by feeling the finger movements within the palm of her hand. She desired to hear again and wanted a cochlear implant.
Her role model has been her mother, Tracie Inman, who is also blind and who received bilateral cochlear implants at JHBI. Tracie wanted her daughter to have this advanced technology to give her back the gift of sound. Dr. Green successfully implanted her left ear in February of this year and she rapidly adapted to hearing again. She is now enjoying sound and is able to talk on the phone to her friends and family. Katie immediately requested a second cochlear implant and was implanted in June , two days after her flight in the clouds. As with her first implant, Katie has excelled and is now using her hearing skills to navigate, reducing her dependence on her walking cane. Katie reports that she “loves to hear” and has become a “chatterbox”. Her father summed up Katie’s future with the family motto, “Only the sky’s the limit”.