In salons, there are standards noises going around: hairspray being spritzed, hairdryers loudly humming, and people talking and laughing.
Despite growing up around hairdressers and being a hairdresser for four years, Gloria Kriausky doesn’t know these sounds. That’s because Kriausky is deaf.
“My family thought that I was born with hearing, that I went deaf later, but I don’t think so, I think I was born deaf. They didn’t have the kind of technology that they have today, for screenings,” she said, with the translation of Jennifer Paycheck, a certified interpreter through Central Kentucky Interpreter Referral.
For Kriausky, this “isn’t a hindrance at all,” according to Shelia Curtis, owner of The Salon, where Kriausky works. When Curtis first learned Kriausky was looking for a salon to join, Curtis was excited at the prospect.
“I was overwhelmed with joy when she came to me for a job,” said Curtis
Curtis used to cut the hair of both Kriausky and her mother, so the salon owner knew the kind of person Kriausky is.
“Someone who was that driven … that spoke volumes to me,” Curtis said.
Despite making slight adjustments for a hearing-impaired employee, “it’s been pretty normal, really,” Curtis said.
Curtis and the staff are able to communicate with Kriausky by using a notebook, to write down what they need, or by using Kriausky’s videophone, which calls an interpreter who translates what they are saying into sign language that she can see. It also works if someone calls Kriausky.
Having a videophone is essential to Kriausky’s work. “This is not a luxury, I have to have a way that I can communicate with people,” she said.
Kriausky also has become pretty comfortable in reading body language, which enables her to know what people are thinking or feeling sometimes. This is one way she is able to help her clientele. Because she is unable to hear them, she has to pay close attention to what they are doing or how they are acting while in the chair.
“I can see the person’s body language and how they move. And if they’re not happy, I can tell. I can be like, ‘OK, let’s stop. Let me ask them again,’” Kriausky said, explaining that she takes that opportunity to be completely certain the client is satisfied.
When Kriausky was a child, her grandmother was a hairdresser. That’s where her love really began.
“My grandmother was a hairdresser for many, many years,” Kriausky said. She explained that, as a child, she would always play with and fix her grandma’s hair. It’s become a family business, having aunts and cousins who have gone into the field and some who retired from hairdressing. Kriausky hopes someday one of her daughters will want to follow in her footsteps, creating a family legacy.
“I would love to see one of them become a hairdresser, pass it along from my grandmother,” she said. Both of her daughters are deaf and are students at Kentucky School for the Deaf.
Kriausky started school to be a dental lab technician but didn’t feel that she connected to that kind of profession.
“I knew there had been hairdressers in my family for years, and I wanted to do something with scissors, something with that kind of a thing. And I love working with hair, plus I’m a real social person and I like seeing new people and interacting with people,” she said.
When she chose to go to cosmetology school, she was provided an interpreter through vocational rehabilitation, who attended class with her daily. Paycheck was that interpreter.
“We’ve been through the whole process. It’s exciting,” Paycheck said.
According to Paycheck, Kriausky had to complete the same process that everyone else in the cosmetology field did. It requires them to attend school, take a written and practical exam, complete a six-month apprenticeship, and take another practical exam, after which they may become licensed.