MARCH 6, 2020 — Emma Faye Rudkin ’18 has been legally deaf since she was 4 years old, yet she hears the cries of deaf children, she says, and has worked diligently for five years alongside a team of women to be the voice of as many deaf adolescents as possible.
“I didn’t know a lot of concepts and words until I was 11,” Rudkin said. “I had close friends, but for a long time I felt like no one understood me. I spent the majority of my childhood wanting to be included, thinking that no one understood my world.”
According to Rudkin, who received her bachelor’s degree communication from UTSA, children who are deaf frequently are not given access to the resources and tools they need to communicate with others. In the United States alone, for example, only 20 states require private health insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids.
“I want to open the eyes of the community regarding the issues and the struggles that deaf people encounter,” Rudkin said. Her organization, Aid the Silent, has been opening eyes and breaking through barriers since its inception in 2015.
Rudkin was 18 years old when she founded the nonprofit to provide hearing aids and resources to ten children a year. Now the organization’s staff consists of six women who in 2019 worked with 229 deaf and hard-of-hearing children and teenagers to arrange resources such as classroom equipment, hearing aids, summer camps, American sign language lessons and speech therapy.
Aid the Silent was also able to provide 16 grants for teachers of the deaf across San Antonio and surrounding areas to equip their classrooms with missing curriculum and provide full accessibility for entire field trips as well as fund continued education conferences specializing in deaf education.
⇒ Learn more about the work of Aid the Silent.
“I walked around our offices, which are bursting at the seams with interns and our team members and watched in amazement as filming was taking place to share stories about some of our greatest supporters of Aid the Silent at our upcoming annual gala. I sat on my office floor in tears to count a total number of deaf and hard-of-hearing children we directly impacted in 2019,” said Rudkin.
“This is a miracle we are living out, a part of a grander rescue operation for deaf children. It is truly beyond my wildest dreams for my 18-year-old self, terrified and young to start Aid the Silent. Here’s the message: Do what is scary, do what no else is doing, say yes, show up, be faithful. Be 18 and terrified and say yes to the God-size dream.”
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