WSU veterinary school helping deaf student achieve success

The first deaf student to attend Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine might have different learning needs than others, but her professors and classmates are giving her the support she needs to succeed.

According to KLEW News, second-year veterinary student Kimi Ross didn't quite know what to expect when she enrolled in the veterinary program because of her inability to hear. So far, the extra effort from her teachers and classmates has ensured that her learning experience has been a fruitful one, she said.

"It's been a really good experience for me," Ross said. "And I was very, very surprised. It wasn't what I expected at all, in a good way."

Ross is able to learn complex terms and subjects with the help of sign language interpreters, classmates who sign with her and take copious notes, and professors who take the time to make sure she has the information she needs, according to a WSU news release.

She employs specialized tools to aid her while working, such as an amplified stethoscope that allows her to hear animals' hearts. She also is learning to analyze animals' symptoms with her sense of touch, she said.
Professor Steve Hines, DVM, Ph.D., DACVP, said working with Ross has made him focus more on how to modify his teaching style to accommodate all students.

"It makes you think harder about what you do, and how you do it, because you realize that not everything that you do, or have done for the last 24 years, is accessible to Kimi," Hines said. "And so you have to think ahead a little harder, you have to think a little more about why you do some things."

Although Ross can't hear while she's working, Hines said she compensates in other ways that are sure to benefit her future clients and patients.

“Kimi really engages when she communicates. By focusing so hard, she makes you feel like you’re the only one around and that you really matter,” he said. “Humans and animals alike will connect with her.”