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Melissa Felder Zappala Publishes Essay on Coming to Terms With Being Deaf in Big Law in ABA’s Litigation Journal

April 24, 2023

Litigation counsel Melissa Felder Zappala published an essay discussing her experiences as a litigator with profound hearing loss in the Spring 2023 issue of the American Bar Association’s quarterly Litigation journal. In “A Deaf Litigator Reconciles Her Differences,” Melissa examines how accommodations made for her deafness have both helped her succeed in her career and caused anxiety about being different, and how changes to the workplace during the pandemic forced her to finally embrace those differences.

“In a very unexpected twist, the pandemic actually helped me come to terms with my hearing loss in a new way, and it vastly improved my ability to communicate with others,” Melissa writes. “The lack of communication options forced me to get comfortable—fast—with repeatedly disclosing my hearing loss. The pandemic felt like a bit of a ‘coming out’ of sorts.”

She adds that, though her own circumstances are unusual, “this is not a struggle unique to me … So many people have this same inner voice of self-doubt and criticism that spoke to me. My own critical inner voice was perhaps amplified by my hearing loss more than the inner voices of others, but we would all do well to remember that each of us comes with our own need for accommodations.”

» read the article (ABA membership required)

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