Bob Hiltermann was four years old when he lost his hearing to spinal meningitis, but another six years would pass before anyone around him would discover he was deaf.
He was 10 when a teacher debunked his family’s assumption that he was “slow,” he told an audience at Burbank High School Wednesday night.
For years, his family doubted he could ever be successful, but Hiltermann — who went on to have a role on the television show “All My Children” and be a drummer in the band “Beethoven’s Nightmare” — defied their beliefs and this week encouraged deaf students to aim high.
“Don’t take no for an answer. Regardless of how deaf you are, you can,” he said.
Hiltermann trudged through high school the butt of jokes and name calling. With poor grades, he said teachers let him pass based on pity.
But he still managed to pass an acceptance exam for Gallaudet University and would learn sign language for the first time at the Washington, D.C. campus.