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Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Tech Savvy (Dawn Schakett, Web Developer)

7 minutes

NARRATOR: Dawn Schakett it is a web designer by day and an aspiring filmmaker by night. She learned how to create web pages and graphics on her own and later took a job designing websites. She uses those same skills to pursue her love of making films about deafness and relationships among deaf people.

DAWN SCHAKETT: I've always wanted to learn new things. And I've always liked challenges. And if something seems like it can't be done, I keep trying and trying until I can solve the problem. I wanted to learn web design. I thought, oh, the internet. Another idea, I could reach more people.

NARRATOR: When Dawn was growing up, she only had two deaf friends. It wasn't until she was a senior in high school that she began to explore the world of deafness and to accept the fact that she herself was deaf. When she did, a whole new world opened up for her. She began learning about sign language and deaf culture. And what she got to college, she was excited to share her knowledge with her fellow classmates.

I was thirsty for learning more about deaf culture and sign, too. So I was thinking about that, like wow, I can start a club, and all the people who are interested can come, and we can learn together, because I'm learning, too. And I can't say I knew everything, but we can all learn together. When I was at the New England film and video festival, part of our work was looking at a list of submissions, of the and videos that came in. They had two categories, independent and student. I though, oh there's student films? Wow.

That's what I can do. I can reach more people and educate more people about deaf culture and sign language through film. OK, I'm going to apply to a film school now. So I picked Boston University. They had a film program, so I really, really wanted to get in. And BU had open house for people who were interested in the film school. Hi, and I introduced myself, told them I want to come in, I'm very good, I'm very smart, I want to get into film school. I wanted to sell myself. I really want to go. Please remember me when you look at my application. Remember me. That's me, please, please, please. Accepted, great. I think it's mostly because I sold myself. This particular company, they have a software product that developed in Java. I'll get an email, saying that something needs to be done, and then I'll open up the bug report. And then if I need more information, I might go to QA, quality assurance, open up my development platform, fix it, test it, transform it, so it looks like a regular web page. I was always told that I could bridge the gap. But with learning sign, became more clear. And in college, I started the club, it became even more clear that when I met with hearing people and taught them stuff, and they shared with me, we're breaking barriers. I thought that was important with film, it was just important to be able to show that deaf people could act like hearing people. And I would just make films with deaf people in regular roles. And by doing things like that, the subtle things like that, people realize, oh, there's nothing to keep us from interacting with each other.

I made one film called "Someone She Loved." And that was about a deaf couple and a relationship that became violent. And I made that based on something that happened to me.

After, when I showed the film, I had people come to me and tell me thank you for making the film, and the same thing happened to me, and then they were sharing their experiences with me. I was doing the right thing by not hiding things, but sharing. The whole idea for me of making it was saying, I'm not embarrassed. It's not my fault. I didn't ask for that to happen to me, and I wanted to show other women, maybe this is happening to you. Deaf, hearing, doesn't matter. If this is happening to you, it's not right. It's hard to leave, but that might be what you need to do.

When you are writing HTML, you can add some Java Script. A lot of it, I learned on the job. And if I need to do something, I start with cut and paste and then change it. Right now, when you're young in high school, it's OK not to know. I didn't know until after I graduated, I realized I wanted to get into film. So it takes time, so don't worry. You might be 30 when you decide. Don't think that's scary. Just enjoy yourself.

You have to keep trying, and you can't let things stop you. You can't just back out. There's a whole world out there.

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In this segment, Dawn Schakett discusses her duties as a web designer. She channels her passion for web design into making movies about deafness and relationships among deaf people. Part of the "Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Tech Savvy! (Vol. 4)" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 7 minutes

Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 1
36 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 2
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 3
9 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 4
10 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 5
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 6
27 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 7
32 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 8
8 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 9
7 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 10
9 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12