American Sign Language teacher worked to raise the walls of her own home

Published: August 5, 2022 4:28 PM EDT
Updated: August 5, 2022 4:37 PM EDT

An American Sign Language teacher uses her hands for more than just communicating. She also used them to raise the walls of her own home.

Audrey Rodriguez teaches American Sign Language four nights a week. She keeps a quiet classroom at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center in Fort Myers.

“I like to see students learn and smile. It’s a fun class and it’s’ an important language,” said Rodriguez who grew up having difficulty hearing.

An audiologist told her she would likely lose the remainder of her hearing. That day came the morning after a Madonna concert in her 20s.

Rodriguez remembers waking up to painful ringing in her ears. She lost the remainder of her hearing overnight.

“I didn’t realize that the speakers were right behind me blaring and so overnight I lost the rest, the residual hearing just that quick,” said Rodriguez.

Despite her disability, she raised two sons and moved to Florida in 2012 from New York.

“I was getting tired of moving all the time and we were moving so much and I just wanted one place that we could call home and we could stay. I have two sons and my concern was for their future and how they were growing up,” said Rodriguez when asked why she decided to apply for a home from Habitat for Humanity.

After a few attempts, Rodriguez was accepted into the program which requires 300 hours of sweat equity or volunteer work on Habitat homes. She did 700 hours of sweat equity and the remaining 400 hours she worked will be distributed to other families in need.

“My hours the additional hours that I worked have been donated to help 19 other families and I had no idea about this and wow how cool is this?” said Rodriguez.

A home dedication ceremony for Rodriguez is scheduled for Aug. 19 in Lehigh Acres. She hopes to close and move-in in September.

If you would like to apply or become a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, click here. https://www.habitat4humanity.org/

The Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center in Fort Myers is where Rodriguez teaches ASL.

They offer a number of services for those looking to learn sign language for their families or businesses. If you’d like to learn more, click here. https://dhhc.life/