Architect Thomas Posedly and his wife Penny visited Lighthouse School to sign his life story to the students and staff on Friday.
The Posedlys first came to Cayman on a cruise ship last year and, with only eight hours to explore, they chose to take a taxi to Lighthouse School.
“Last year, I asked the [deputy] principal if he would mind if I’d give a little talk for 10 minutes in the classroom. We learned the Lighthouse School serves all sorts of different disabilities,” Posedly said, as he initially thought it was a school for the deaf. He delivered his talk to students, and was interviewed by the Cayman Compass, through sign language translated by his wife, an accredited American Sign Language interpreter.
“I gave a talk to students that were there and I told them my name and what I do for a living as an architect and I spelled out that word and explained it, and then they wanted to know how I could go through a public high school and in college,” Posedly said.
Janice Headley-Thorpe, acting principal of Lighthouse, said the school was excited to host the Posedlys again last week.
“It is wonderful to come to know how successful Mr. Posedly has been in his life with his differences in communication. It is a testimony to his hard work and determination and the support and understanding he has availed of and fostered,” Headley-Thorpe said.
Posedly was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and was diagnosed as completely deaf by the age of 2, after being taken to 20 different doctors, he said. Despite his challenges in communication and being the first deaf student at Tucson High School in Arizona, he earned a two-year scholarship to the University of Arizona because he ranked ninth out of his class of 350.
Posedly said that he went on to major in architecture, with a minor in studio art. He worked in his own architecture office, doing basic architectural services and architectural renderings for 18 years.
“It’s so important to learn reading and writing,” he said. “Sign language is very good if you’re deaf, it really is, but it’s important to have your mind connected with your eyes. If you don’t hear anything, what’s left is your eyes and your brain and that’s important to keep active.”
In 2009, Posedly became a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. In 2014, he helped set up an organisation called World Deaf Architecture, which helps professional architects and designers who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing to network internationally.
Both Headley-Thorpe and Aidan Tumilty, deputy principal of Lighthouse School, said It was hugely beneficial for the students and staff to hear Posedly’s story.
“His life’s journey exemplifies what our students can also achieve through hard work, determination and not giving up on their dreams. LHS would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Posedly for making the effort to increase awareness of the hearing impaired community and understanding differences,” Headley-Thorpe said.