NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Jaime Vernon said she knew the day would come when her daughter would face discrimination for her disability, but that doesn't make it less emotional.
Vernon's daughter, Lexi, was born totally deaf. Now, cochlear implants let her live life like any other nine-year-old. Occasionally Lexi has relied on a second device when she's in situations where distance or background noise can distort the sound signals her implants receive.
Lexi was using that device over the weekend during a softball tournament when others verbally attacked her.
"It was a very intense contest, and the fans just weren’t being humans," Vernon said.
Vernon said parents of players on the opposing team began questioning if Lexi's hearing devices gave her an unfair advantage. At one point, an umpire even asked if Lexi could go without the technology and use sign language instead.
"To us, that’s offensive," Vernon said. "She worked so hard for five years to go from mute, no language, no nothing to having a vocabulary like any other kid and talk like any other kid. The work this child has put in to use her spoken voice.. we are firm believers she has that right."
Following the incident, Vernon wrote a blog post to help other families who may encounter the same issue. In the post she detailed several laws, including the Americans With Disabilities Act, that protect people like Lexi.
"The moment you say this child is deaf and we use this so she can hear, that should be it," she said. "We have rights."
Lexi finished her weekend tournament with the use of her hearing devices.