A lot can be said about this young bright gentleman. If there’s one brief description to be said about Bradley, he is the man who will engage and challenge you in a way you may never expect.
Bradley Porche is a deaf activitist who not only strive to improve quality of life, but ensure that fundamental needs are met regardless of our background in Houston and across the United States. In addition, the combination of words and actions that Bradley abide by are something that we all can learn from.
Thank you for participating our Q & A, give us a brief description of your background
First, I want to say thank you for choosing me as the person in the spotlight and for your hard work in setting up this Houston Deaf Network website.
I am easy to get along with and a great conversationalist. A co-worker once said that I was the jack-of-all-trades, although, I am always looking for new things and to learn new things. I am a proud dad of a 5 month old son, Trevor and a husband to my wife, Tyler. They both are the most important thing in my life. I love technology, politics, and best of all, reading books.
What is your status – Deaf or hearing? If deaf, what was the cause?
I consider myself Deaf with a profound hearing loss. However, I was born hearing at first then my hearing became progressively worse at a later age. I was fortunate to be able to acquire speech at an early age. I did not become involved with the deaf community until I attended Louisiana State University where I first met Sarah Tullier. Sarah introduced me to the deaf world and I met many deaf people who later became friends. From there, I learned to embrace my deafness with pride. People ask me of my preference of being deaf or hearing. I always say deaf. That answer always baffles them because they never have experienced being deaf. It takes one to know one. You should see their face when I say that.
What do you do for living?
I am a Deaf Education Teacher at Clear Springs HS and a professor at Houston Community College. Often times I would take some of my free time writing articles for Houston Deaf Network. I also own a blog site called porchedaily.com. I have a B.S. in Finance and Economics and M.S. in Deaf Education. I used to work for the former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore on the Climate Project. Lastly, I also provide my time with a goal to establish a deaf resource center with Billy Koch, who is a great guy to work with. I plan on adding more degree to my list of accomplishments but what degree? Maybe somewhere along the line of Political Science or Computer Science.-
How did your parents approach when they found out about your deafness?
At first, they were not sure of what was going on and they sought help but they wanted the right kind of help. What I mean by that is, there are two types of help you can find. The one who says they know how to help you but never experienced being deaf and the ones whom are deaf and know how to provide the answers. My parents made the right choice in the type of assistance they sought. Like any parents, they were confused and frustrated due to the fact that I became deaf and knew that deafness as a disability was what I had to face. The best thing they ever did was finding someone who understood deafness and how to communicate through the use of sign language. It was the most important thing for us to have the ability to communicate through sign language. When I look back, I am glad they did not try to fix the problem instead they allowed me to function like anyone else with the exception that I cannot hear. The type of attitude and view my parents had toward deafness was a positive one.
What was your experience like during your childhood?
I grew up in a middle class household and I was always involved in sports. My parents pretty much taught me everything that I needed to know in order to function in the real world. They made sure that I took special interest in anything that I was fascinated with. I had many friends both hearing and deaf due to the fact that I was comfortable with my deafness and I understood at a early age that there were people who did not understand deafness. I did not resent the fact that they did not know how to communicate and the only way for them to understand was for me to show them what deafness is all about. In the process, my friends became more aware of the issues that I faced. I dated many hearing girls and it was not until later when I arrived at LSU that I started dating a deaf girl. It was when I knew that dating a deaf girl for me was a lot better because the communication and understanding was there. The result was, I married one. 🙂
I noticed that you were a spokeperson for Al Gore’s Environmental, how long have you worked for him and how did you end up that job?
I have worked for Al Gore’s organization, The Climate Project, for almost 2 1/2 years now. I was fortunate to be able to work for him and to see him teaching the ways of how to be an effective speaker. Al Gore has never once looked down at me because of my deafness. He treated me like anyone else and knew I could do the job, after all, I was selected by him. For that, I have learned valuable lessons in becoming an effective presenter and learning how things works in the political world. It was not an easy job because with Global Warming, there is always skeptics and I had to deal with those people. In the process, I have learned valuable lesson in the art of communication.
How did I end up working for him? I remember watching this movie called An Inconvenient Truth and near at the end it said that if you want to help, join the Climate Project. I went online and gave my information, wrote an essay of why I would be a great presenter, and gave my background experience. It was not until I found out 4 months later that I got selected by Gore. There was a rumor that over 400,000 people submitted and I was one of the 2,000 people from around the world. Not bad eh? From there on, I took the pride in working for Gore.
What was the common stereotypes you’ve encountered?
Oh, I have had plenty of stereotypes from people who did not understand deafness. For example, there were people thought I was hearing and continue to do so even after I told them I am deaf! Then they say, but you speak well!
I have had people come up to me and say, “Oh you are deaf? Oh I am sorry.” Sorry for what?
The most common is in the job interview and they always say, “How do you get in touch with someone, answer the phone, and can you read lips?” I am thinking, “This dude is a corporate manager and he has no clue of the technologies we use? How did this inept person get hired in the first place?”
What are your common challenges you face with hearing community?
The biggest challenge is trying to accommodate to the hearing community because they expect me to function on their level. Many times the hearing community assumes that I cannot do the job and I often prove them wrong. My time is wasted trying to prove them wrong when I could be doing something beneficial for everyone. I just have to work four times harder than them just to be able to prove that a deaf person like myself can do it. It becomes frustrating because every time I start on something new or wanting to do something new, the hearing peers always questions my ability. I often make my hearing peers accommodate me by making them learn sign language so it would be a fair game.
I know you’re pretty active in politics, what made you get into political aspects?
I remember watching this movie, ‘Mr. Smith goes to Washington’ and it was such an inspirational movie. The movie demonstrated how one man changed the minds of many Congressmen and how he served the people, not the special interest of the lobbyist. I have always wanted to be Mr. Smith because it is in my heart and desire to serve ‘For the People, By the People’. Later on, my will became stronger when I read this great book, 1776 by David McCullough
Think you’ll run for the office one day? If so, what or how would you make a difference to the society?
I plan on running for office one day but the question is, what type of office? You see, it requires a lot of determination to get to know people and to understand what people want. I take it one day at a time and to make myself known to the public. The key is the voters, not the corporate donors, that chooses me. I think that politics has lost it’s way of having a true form of serving ‘for the people, by the people’. Right now, it is all about special interest and whomever’ got the most money that a person can buy. I call it bribery but Congress calls it contributors. The voice of the American people is being drown out when a Congressperson put religion, ideals, and morals first before everything else. A true politician should know that it is the will of the people, whatever the voice that may be, should be represented as a voice for all.
It is no longer about the Democrats or Republicans, it is about the ideals and values of the people that matters most. In a nutshell, it is more like Congress being the Corporate of America. I intend to clean it up.
Any advice to deaf/hoh community?
My advice is not to follow but to lead. Do not sit around and wait for things to happen, you have to make things happen. Once you do, things will become harder because you take on bigger challenge, therefore, the greater the reward. If you give up, not only you give up on yourself but you give up on everyone around you. Life is unpredictable and make the best of it.
Thank you, Bradley, for taking the time to answer the questions for us. Houstonains are surely fortunate to have you in our community. For more information about Bradley, feel free to use our comment section or contact him directly.