On October 29, 1987, Pamela Montgomery stood next to Washington, D.C.'s mayor as 1,500 people gave her a standing ovation. Her broad smile exuded pride, excitement, and triumph, prompting a friend who was in the audience that day to say later, "She looked like she was running for president." Pam did not have two fingers extended in a candidate's "V" for victory, however; her upraised hand formed the American Sign Language sign for "I love you."
Twenty-five years ago, Pam lived in a world of silence and isolation. A deaf child with cerebral palsy, she was declared mentally retarded and committed to Forest Haven, an institution outside Washington, D.C., at the age of 6. It wasn't until six years later that any effort was made to give her language training so that she could communicate.