Living in a world of sound can be hard, but imagine doing so without the ability to hear anything. That's the reality for dozens of students in District 205, which has a hearing services program Unique in northern Illinois.
Meet Elijah Watters. A star student and quarterback at Lincoln Middle School. But at 13 years old, Elijah faces more than just math problems.
"I was born deaf but my mom didn't know I was deaf when I was born," said Elijah.
Elijah's mom Shannon says he's not letting that stop him from excelling on and off the field.
"Sometimes in public he doesn't even want me to use sign language, just so he doesn't stick out."
"Being deaf just means you can't hear. People misunderstand what that means it's just a communication issue."
Elijah is one of nearly 60 students who are deaf or hard of hearing in District 205. The hearing services program, which is housed at Rolling Green Elementary School, Lincoln and East High School, is unique in northern Illinois.
Students talk and use sign language in small classes, but they're also in mainstream courses with other kids, where they use one of 13 district interpreters.
"It helps to know what the teacher is saying," said Elijah.
"And our kids have to learn to advocate for themselves, all i need to do is sit here and be find all i need is a certain adaptation and they can do what any other kid can do," said Mindy Brown, one of Elijah's teachers.
Teachers say technology like cochlear implants and video phones, play a big part in helping kids become more independent adults.
Administrators say there are also students from surrounding areas like Freeport in the hearing services program.