Opinion

There’s no reason not to travel

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Film Director Peter Jackson’s new World War I documentary, “They Shall Not Grow Old,” is a powerful story told using 100-year-old film and advanced computer technology.

“They Shall Not Grow Old” relied also on the expertise of a deaf-from-birth forensic lip reader. She read the lips of WWI soldiers in the old film and translated their words. As a result, said a documentary team member, “These men [who have] been dead for years, …and [now] we’ve got [them] actually speaking.”

I shared this forensic lip reader story with my friend, Tammy Estes. In 2013-14 we both worked for the Maine Department of Corrections. I was communications director. Tammy was a senior programmer analyst.

She is a great source for my understanding of the “deaf culture.”

Tammy, a Certified Travel Consultant with her Estes Consultant of Travel business, said of the forensic lip reader story, “I relied very much on lip reading my whole life.

“I’ve always loved travel. I’ve traveled here and there and seen a lot,” Tammy said, but 25 years ago, with the internet replacing brick-and-mortar travel agencies, when she first wanted to go to school for travel, a travel agent advised her, “Don’t do it,” and Tammy didn’t.

Instead, she earned a couple of business and computer degrees from the University of Southern Maine, then Gallaudet University.

But Tammy’s travel dream remained. When I first heard Tammy talk of her travel agent dream, she seemed afraid to make the leap.

Tammy said, “There was a time when I really had a lot of fear of different things based, I think, on the fact I am deaf. I’ve been put down a lot in my lifetime.”

Then someone asked, “Tammy, what would you do if fear was not an issue?”

“I remember that conversation well,” she told me. “I got to thinking about my mom. She passed away five years ago. She was my go-to person, the one person I could rely on and trust. Life is too short. It really is. We’re only on this earth for so long and — just do what you love.”

As for her travel agent dream? “I decided I was going to go for it. And I did,” said Tammy.

In 2017 Tammy went back to school, studied six months, and scored 98 percent on her national Travel Agent Proficiency test. She has since “trained for specialization in several [travel related] areas,” and is a member of the American Society of Travel Agents, National Association of Travel Agents (NATA), and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Estes Consultant of Travel offers full Certified Travel Consultant service to deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing customers.

Tammy’s business has a website and a Facebook page. Hearing phone conversations can be tricky, Tammy said. “The best way to get in touch with me is email or Facebook Messenger. Leaving phone messages is fine. Usually I don’t pick up the first time somebody calls when I’m not sure if the caller is a telemarketer.”

Tammy went on to say, “I serve anybody with an accessibility need. I service the wider public, but I focus a lot on accessibility. I really want anybody in need of accessibility to be able to travel and not feel limited,” Tammy tells me. “There’s really no reason to not travel.”

In a future column I will share some of what I’ve learned from Tammy Estes about the deaf and hearing cultures, and how we can communicate better.

Until then you can reach Tammy Estes at these two online locations:

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/EstesconsultantofTravel/

Website
http://www.estestravel.com

Scott K. Fish has served as a communications staffer for Maine Senate and House Republican caucuses, and was communications director for Senate President Kevin Raye. He founded and edited AsMaineGoes.com and served as director of communications/public relations for Maine’s Department of Corrections until 2015. He is now using his communications skills to serve clients in the private sector.

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