Amherst Family Can't Hear But That Doesn't Stop Them

May 17, 2012 Updated May 17, 2012 at 11:34 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

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May 17, 2012 Updated May 17, 2012 at 11:34 PM EDT

Amherst, NY
(WKBW)

It's dinnertime at the Wantucks and it looks just like every other household only at the Wantuck's everyone is deaf. They communicate by sign language, even with the family dog.

Each family member was born deaf but has a different degree of deafness.

Two years ago the mother, Sue Wantuck who wore a hearing aid thought her batteries had gone dead, but it turned out she suddenly lost even more of her hearing.

"That was like out of the blue, I was not prepared for that," said Sue.

Sue decided to undergo cochlear implant surgery ----- and have an electronic device implanted underneath the skin behind her ear.

The controversial procedure is frowned upon by many in the deaf community as selling out to the hearing world but Sue disagrees with that,

"When I got the implant it was like wow! It was amazing how much I was hearing things."

While she says she'll always be proud to be deaf, the implant has opened up a whole new world.

"I hear the birds almost every day. i mean i'm in the house and i still hear the birds," Sue explained.

Sue's 23 year old son Danny has a very different experience. Danny is profoundly deaf and relies solely on sign language and texting on his cell phone.

The recent business graduate from the Rochester Institute of Technology had to switch to an alarm clock with a light in order to get to class on time.

"I don't use the alarm clock that vibrates your bed. I don't like those. I sometimes overslept so I prefer the alarm with a bright light. I wake up faster," said Danny.

Perhaps the most transforming for the deaf community is new technology that allows the deaf to talk on the telephone.

With a high-speed internet connection everyone in the family uses the Sorenson Video Phone especially Daniel, the father of the house who like to catch up with his friend on the latest in sports news.

The equipment is provided free-of-charge to deaf and hard-of-hearing people and also features a relay-service where a certified sign language interpreter can place calls to hearing people for the deaf user, it also allows them to talk to other deaf people.

"Could I say good morning or good evening America?" joked David Wantuck.

Twenty-one year old David is the comedian of the family and is almost always glued to his laptop.

"I could live without my phone for a week or two but for computers? No," said David.

The junior, majoring in Sports Management at Medaille College has special provisions at school.

"I have interpreters provided, I have notetakers from classes. All the professors knows beforehand when I'm in class they have a deaf student," said David.

If you visit the Wantucks and ring the doorbell it will trigger a light blaring off and on throughout the house.

"I tell people that we're no different than anyone out there we can drive we can do things on a day to day basis and the only thing that's different is we can't hear," said David.

The Deaf Adult Services center on Main Street in Buffalo has information on the equipment featured in the story and they also provide other services for the deaf and hard of hearing.