Heidi Zimmer

Woman wearing winter clothes standing in front of river or waterfall
Heidi Zimmer

I had congenital deafness as profoundly deaf since birth and in addition to being Deaf, I was diagnosed late in life with Usher Syndrome, a progressive vision loss resulting from retinitis pigmentosa. I grew up experiencing conflicting philosophies in deaf education. 

I went through oral education for 13 years. My father noticed that my English skills were delayed and that I wasn’t really progressing as much as they’d hoped.  It was at this point that he began to doubt the effectiveness of oralism for me, so my parents decided to try a different approach. They sent me to the California School for the Deaf in Riverside, which I now consider one of the best decisions they ever made. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. I worked as a computer programmer in the Aerospace Industry for 17 years.

I competed in the women’s high jump event at the World Games for the Deaf (now called the Deaflympics) in 1969 and 1973 and won the bronze medal in Yugoslavia in 1969. Currently, I am an amateur mountaineer and adventurer and have set a goal of doing the “Seven Summits:’ (climbing the highest mountains on seven continents). I have become the first Deaf woman to reach the top of Denali in Alaska along with Kilimanjaro in Africa and the first Deaf person to reach the top of Mt. Elbrus in Russia.

My goal is to make sure deaf/hard of hearing/deafblind children have access to early Language Acquisition and are provided access to good education to the child’s needs so that the child could grow up with a good quality of life.