Cortes adapts to adult life through parents’ disabilities


Courtesy of Jesus Cortes

Junior Jesus Cortes communicates with his father using Spanish Sign Language.

Imagine having to translate a conversation between your parents and your friends’ parents any time someone new comes to your house. Or having to know what haircut you want by four years old. This is the reality for junior Jesus Cortes, as both of his parents are deaf. Strangely enough, he and his younger brother hear just like any other person. Cortes speaks Spanish Sign Language with his parents but is in the process of learning American Sign Language so he is able to help out Americans who are deaf too. Cortes has had to take on responsibilities not very many children under the age of ten do. 

“Growing up with deaf parents, you could say it was pretty hard. I’ve adapted to it though. For example, ordering at restaurants can be pretty annoying because I have to tell them what my parents want, what I want, what my brother wants. You just have to grow up a little bit quicker because you have to be more responsible for yourself,” Cortes said. 

Cortes has had to act as the middle man throughout his life because of his parents’ hinderance. 

“I had to learn stuff like paying bills and other bank stuff, reading important mail information at a really young age so I could hear it from the people and then explain it to my parents in sign language,” Cortes said. 

Both of Cortes’s parents work, so he is often the only one home or awake. This means he has had to teach his little brother basic things that we learn from our parents, things we often take for granted. 

“With taking care of my brother, it just means that I have to be another parent for him. I have to teach him stuff like how to read, count, numbers, all those things that he’s had to grow up without,” Cortes said. 

His parents inability to hear can cause some scary situations. For example, they can’t hear the door slam behind someone walking out of the house. 

“One time I was playing outside and my parents were inside, but they can’t hear me so then I literally just walked out into the road. This is when I was little, but I went to the playground about five minutes away and they didn’t hear me leave and didn’t see me, so they had to go looking for me. Eventually they found me, but that could have been a scary moment for me,” Cortes said. 

Cortes doesn’t think much of his parents deafness anymore, because they teach him the same thing other parents would. 

“Having deaf parents is a challenge, but it’s not that much different from having regular parents. They’re raising you the same way,” Cortes said. 

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