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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) - The crack of a baseball bat. A vendor yelling "cold beer here!" A roaring crowd on a hot July night. Those are the sounds associated with the ballpark and America's past time.
They are also the sounds many people take for granted. Imagine watching a baseball in silence.
A group of nearly 1200 deaf or hard of hearing people did just that by attending Tuesday's nights Louisville Bats game. It kicked off the week long National Association of the Deaf conference here in Louisville.
Organizers say the conference aims shatter stereotypes that the deaf are disabled and work towards concrete solutions aimed at a wide range of topics – from fostering stronger marriages to finding a job.
"We have got to figure out to fight those attitudes -- we are very capable people. I myself am a lawyer by trade," said Howard Rosenblum, the CEO of the National Association of the Deaf.
"It's our first time here," said Michigan native Brenda Dawe.
Dawe is so passionate about sign language she can't stop.
"My hands tell my brain what to say and it goes backwards," she said.
She's an interpreter for Walter, who was born deaf. the two are passionate about each other. And why shouldn't they be they're married.
"Walter and I have been a married a short time - almost 48 years."
Communication is key in a strong marriage.
"I'm his mouth and he is my hands. And he's my teacher and I share what I hear and he shares with me what he sees," said Brenda Dawe.
Walter has communication down to a science.
"When she yaks at me I just turn my head... I don't hear a thing," he said joking.
But the truth is these love birds are a rare breed. Many deaf people have failed marriages and are under employed. Employment rate for deaf individuals is very low, according to Rosenblum, who said it can be as high as 40 percent.
This week's deaf conference hopes to find concrete solutions to these obstacles.
The ballgame marked the first time Louisville Slugger field closed captioned a game.
It's a conference united in love, passion and understanding. A group united with a cause and a couple united years of by love. That's about as as American as baseball.
The National Association of the Deaf convention runs all week at the Kentucky International Convention Center.