By Jonah Carino

Ka La staff writer 

This article was published in the Ka La’s April/May 2014 printed edition.


“Cadet Ferdinand Bermudez reporting for duty, sir.”

Fingers fly and a woman shouts. Bermudez stands at attention.

“At ease,” the sergeant orders. Bermudez is Deaf.

Cadet Ferdinand Bermudez Ka La Honolulu CC
Today, Bermudez relies on a sign interpreter, but someday he and others with hearing impairments might have the chance to serve their country in uniform thanks to technology still in its infancy.

While those without hearing impairments have the advantage of being able to follow verbal commands, deaf people can sense noise and are sometimes more attuned to visual input.

Small devices that output sensitive sound, strobe lights, or vibrations could help Bermudez to participate in training exercises.

Bermudez, a 28-year-old student at Honolulu Community College, is studying to become an airplane mechanic. He plans to graduate in three years.

The desk sergeant, Sergeant James Solano, helped Bermudez by working to improve disability access for his training class.

Before that, Bermudez shared aspects of deaf culture and pieces of deaf history with Solano.

A sergeant asked Bermudez about his plans for the future. Bermudez’s eyes lit up and his hands listed his goals and dreams. “I plan on graduating in 2017, then possibly joining the military,” Bermudez said through his interpreter.

“But you’re deaf,” the sergeant said.

“Things are always changing in the military,” Bermudez said. “At one time, minorities couldn’t serve with whites, women were not permitted, homosexuals were barred. I want to show the military that the Deaf can serve their country. When they change their requirements, I will be ready.”


Ka La News Staff 2014 SMB

Ka La is the student newspaper of Honolulu Community College. It is entirely student run and operated under the supervision of the school’s Student Media Board.

Its offices are located on the ground floor of Building 2, just around the corner from the book store.