The first time I met Betty Miller was in the pages of Jack Gannon’s big, brown book of Deaf Heritage. I had just learned that my daughter was deaf, not “hearing impaired” and that I had inadvertently deprived of her of the natural language of her body because of the advice most so-called experts and professionals dished out to hearing parents in those days. Boy, was I mad! Betty’s powerful images jumped off the pages and called to me to work for change.
The second time we met was over TTY call. Betty was furious with me because I had used one of her images (chained hands, broken fingers) on a flyer without permission. I had seen a flyer advertising a one day workshop for hearing parents in Montgomery County titled “Communication is the Key.” The schedule listed presentations on many topics and modes of communication, but ASL was not included. Some key! I made up a counter flyer that had Betty’s image and some information about ASL and some resources for parents seek out to learn more. On the day of the conference I stood outside handing out my flyer to the attendees until I was asked to leave. I tried explaining to Betty that I had only leaned about the conference the day before and had not had time to contact her and ask permission. She understood what I was trying to accomplish, but she also made it clear that I had overstepped an important boundary.
The third time I met Betty was after she moved back to Washington, and I had the opportunity to get to know her as a person. She forgave my indiscretion and over the course of many conversations we became friends and eventually worked together on a large installation called “Hearing Aids are not Like Glasses.”
I am very sorry that I cannot be at her memorial. I am sure there will be many tributes to her talent and accomplishments, but I will always remember her for her integrity, which was unshakeable, and her stickers. She always spoke her mind and she never lost her sense of fun. She meant the world to me, and I miss her.