CCHAT Board Spotlight: John Porteous
CCHAT preaches the importance of early intervention and parent participation for children with hearing loss, and few people exemplify this idea as well as John Porteous. Fortunately for CCHAT, John is a board member who for 12 years has served the CCHAT community and advocated for its children and families.
Growing up with hearing loss and now thriving as an oral-deaf adult, John is a great role model for CCHAT students and a prime example of the limitless opportunities that are available to those who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Family Support Makes a World of Difference
John was just 18 months old when he was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears. With this happening in the late 1970s/early 1980s, the idea that a child who was deaf could learn to listen and speak was a fairly new concept.
Luckily for John, his parents took a proactive approach.
“My parents were great and tackled the challenge head on,” John said. “My mother was incredible. She worked with me daily and also found Jean Weingarten (CCHAT’s sister school in Redwood City).”
John was equipped with hearing aids at 2 years old. Despite living in Modesto, he and his family made the nearly 200-mile round trip car ride three times a week to Weingarten to ensure John received the early intervention services he needed to develop listening and spoken language.
“I remember all the pronunciation drills, speech therapy and fun games associated with developing speech, listening and my lip reading skills,” John said.
Thanks to this combination of family dedication and comprehensive educational support, John was able to mainstream from Weingarten to his local kindergarten at age 5. Perhaps just as important, John never felt different because of his hearing loss.
“I don't remember any challenges during that time, (though) I'm sure there were many,” John said. “I just saw myself as any other kid out there trying to do my best. I credit my mother for raising a confident kid who had a very normal childhood while constantly working on my speech and language skills.”
Finding Success as an Adult and Connecting with CCHAT
With a foundation of listening and spoken language skills in place, John was able to successfully navigate mainstream schooling. He eventually attended Willamette University in Oregon, completing his undergrad program in Political Science in 2001. In 2008, John earned his Juris Doctorate from Lincoln School of Law in Sacramento.
While working in the District Attorney’s office in Stanislaus County in 2010, John was approached by CCHAT to testify on its behalf for a bill at the state capitol.
“I was invited to join the CCHAT Board shortly after, which I was honored to accept,” John said. “It is an amazing feeling to be able to be a part of an organization much like the one that helped me as a child.”
For the past 12 years, John has served an impactful term on the CCHAT Board, filling a variety of roles including a stint as the Board Chair.
“My primary focus has been the overall health of the organization and the governance of our board,” John said. “However, what gives me the most satisfaction is seeing so many kids thrive at CCHAT and go on to do amazing things at their local schools.”
An Idea is Born in the Kitchen
John’s current passion, expertise and vocation lies in the kitchen. He and his friends co-founded Principle Faucets, an innovative company that integrates the use of a foot pedal into your home’s kitchen faucet design to maximize ease of use and water savings.
“What started as an idea between friends morphed into a proof of concept, prototypes, significant outside interest, manufacturing and then finally a business,” John said. “We are creeping up on our 2nd anniversary of being in the marketplace and are thrilled with the company's growth and future.”
John oversees day-to-day operations, finances, manufacturing and shipping for Principle Faucets, and the company has joined John in its support of CCHAT by sponsoring multiple fundraising events for the program.
The new business has kept John plenty busy.
“We are a small team selling our products nationally,” John said. “Therefore, as you can imagine, we all wear a lot of hats on a daily basis.”
A Long-Term Commitment to CCHAT and its Families
While John is consumed with making Principle Faucets a nationwide success, his commitment to the CCHAT community remains as strong as ever.
“CCHAT is an incredible program,” John said. “I am incredibly proud of all CCHAT has accomplished in the 12 years I have been on the board. We have an amazing staff, an extraordinary director and a wonderful group of board members, past and present.”
John gets especially passionate when speaking about CCHAT students. As an adult who has faced and overcome a number of challenges in regards to his hearing loss, John knows he can connect on a personal level with CCHAT families.
“I know everything can be very scary at first,” John said. “Each family faces very unique challenges when it comes to hearing loss and how that all fits into their lives.”
John encourages families to reach out if they have questions about what their child’s future may look like. He hopes that his example as a successful businessman, avid outdoorsman and hearing loss advocate shows that anything is possible for CCHAT kids.
“It's going to be a more challenging life at times, but hey, that's okay!” John said. “I certainly still face challenges at times associated with being a deaf adult…but we live in an extraordinary time where technology, teaching methodology and audiological services create an amazing opportunity for your child to thrive now and throughout their lives.”
Feel free to reach out to John by using CCHAT’s contact page. Principle Faucets is sponsoring this year’s Bike 4 Fun fundraiser, and John’s student teammate at CCHAT is Mateo from the preschool class. Click here to show your support for Mateo’s ride.