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October 8, 2013 / KingsIsle Entertainment

Communicating With No Barriers

Hello fellow wizards and pirates, my name is Kelsey Fireheart and I run Stars of the Spiral, an official fansite for both Pirate101 and Wizard101! I was asked to write a short article on how it’s like being a deaf player playing KingsIsle games. I was quite honored by their kind request. So first, here’s some background about me. I was born deaf into a hearing family because my mother had german measles while pregnant with me. It destroyed the hair in my cochlea in my ear which prevented me from hearing. But I was always told that I was like everyone else and was treated just the same. My uncle would place my hand on his guitar and he would play. Even though I couldn’t hear, I was encouraged to love music. I can read lips and speak when I have to, but I mostly use American Sign Language to communicate with other people.

I was born in a generation that had no computers, modems or any internet connection. I grew up riding on my bicycle, spending a lot of time outdoors and chasing my brother when we needed the exercise. But when we received our very first Nintendo game console and playing Super Mario Bros with my brother. That was the start of gaming for me. Many years later, I saw Wizard101 in an ad online and I decided, why not? I loved the idea of a continuing game. One that will keep me on my toes with new content. So I created my very first wizard, Kelsey Fireheart. She is a proud redheaded Pyromancer who was ready to go on a grand adventure! Once I completed Triton Avenue, I was confronted by a choice. Buy more crowns, buy a membership or quit. I decided to get a membership to see how I did within a month. It only cost me ten bucks for 1 month? Sure! I remember questing in the Pyramid of the Sun of Krokotopia and I bumped into a fellow wizard named Diana Wildheart. We chatted as we helped each other through the battles. She mentioned that she was deaf and I gasped in astonishment. I replied, I am deaf too! That’s when I realized that I could meet fellow deaf gamers through games like Wizard101. She was my first ever in-game friend that I still keep in touch with. We even created our accounts in the same year and month with only a few days apart. That made me decide to continue my subscription to Wizard101. I loved the idea of being able to be able to meet new friends in-game that you could connect with.


That experience also made me want to show others what deafness means. I also wanted to disprove some ideas and thoughts on what deaf people can do as well as can’t do. I knew that this game is full of people who do not understand what “deaf” or “deafness” means. This game is an wonderful educational tool that I can use to teach countless others and it gave me a way of communicating with no barriers. In fact, it gave me a greater purpose within the game!

For example, some people think we can’t hear anything. That’s not true. We can hear things to a degree. For myself, I can hear motorcycles, airplanes and large dog barking. I can hear music if it’s loud enough. But the thing we love the most is the vibrations. Also I try to advise people not to apologize to deaf people that they cannot hear. There’s no need to apologize to a deaf person as we are very proud of who we are! Like I wouldn’t apologize that you can’t speak klingon. We are used to being deaf and we can’t miss what we don’t know.

Since I can’t hear, the visual aspect is really important to me. I love KI’s use of colors and textures that create the beautiful worlds that we know and love like Zafaria in Wizard101 and Mooshu in Pirate101. Even the Pirate101’s stormgates is amazing. I may not be able to hear the amazing music or the character’s goofy voice overs, but I am still part of the quest because of the captions! But what I love the most is the way they managed to make the worlds’ look evoke emotions either good or bad. For instance, before we finish the very last dungeon in Azteca, the world looked beautiful like the paradise it should be. But once we finished the dungeon, the way the entire world’s look changed really made it hit home. It became grey and overcast with characters gaping at the darkening sky above. Yes, Azteca is really being bombarded by meteors and you can see the effect in the entire place. It made me feel sad for the characters in that world. I didn’t need the music to feel that, that was enough for me.

Even though I know it’s practically impossible, but I would love to see sign language being used in-game. After all, some sign language is universal like the “I Love You” sign which should be spread to every corner of the world. But I can keep dreaming.


If you ever wanted to know how to spell Wizard101 or Pirate101, here’s a guide.





If you seek adventure, all you need is a wand or a ship.

-Kelsey Fireheart


Leave a Comment
  1. Jennifer Tatum / Oct 8 2013 11:57 am

    I was reading this article while my four year old sat next to me eating breakfast. As I scrolled down, suddenly she giggled and said, “Look mommy! That wizard is saying I love you!!” Universal, indeed! Excellent article., Thank you.

  2. Mary / Oct 8 2013 2:50 pm

    Id like to say I agree because im deaf also

    • Victoria Flower (Fire) / Oct 9 2013 7:34 am

      Hello Kelsey and Mary, I’m also deaf too. Be nice to meet you in the game!

    • Maria Sookram / Oct 19 2013 8:05 am

      Hey i am also deaf!! ^.^!! i want meet people who deaf have Wizard101! I like pics and nice meet you 😀

  3. Von / Oct 8 2013 3:04 pm

    Like you, I was born before the Internet~ my generation was one of the last to play outside, ride our bikes until sunset, or not have a computer/game system in the house at all (got my first household computer when I was 12). before Back when I was a baby wizard, my first-grade teacher was deaf in one ear… So she taught us how to sign, and I learned the alphabet, numbers, a few songs, and (much later on) order my coffee in ASL.

    When I read your article, I immediately recognized the symbol for “I love you”. This is an excellent article and it goes without saying that I’m impressed with your courage and ability to adapt… A good friend of mine is blind, due to a childhood illness, but he is very intelligent~ reads books, watches documentaries, and likes reading the paper online: he can tell who he’s talking to, just by the sound of our voices or footsteps. It’s truly amazing how the senses compensate for one another!

    Much love and respect,

  4. blackhole23 / Oct 8 2013 3:47 pm

    I have to say I always enjoy these articles of various players having fun in a game that as someone once quoted is for those of 6 years old to 106 years old.

  5. Megan Hayley / Oct 8 2013 3:48 pm

    This article made my day.

  6. Anonymous / Oct 8 2013 3:49 pm

    Very lovely thoughts and Feelings behind this piece of work i hope she have even more fun and Excitment in Both Wizard and Pirate 101

  7. Malcolm Smith / Oct 8 2013 5:02 pm

    Fantastic nice story.
    Hope I meet Kelsey Fireheart on my travels through the spiral.

  8. Gooden / Oct 8 2013 6:12 pm

    Hiyas Kelsey!,
    You’ll know me when I say background on Duck of Death (I think). I think I met your friend Diana. I think she was with a friend and said my Viridian Scepter looked like a, was it bobble? I think so. That article was inspirational!

  9. Alia / Oct 8 2013 7:35 pm

    Thanks so much for the article. I love learning about different people and their adventures through this life and of course their progress in Wizard. This was a very good uplifting article. I may be able to hear, but I have other issues that are different for other people. As you have learned to work around it, I have too. Thanks so much and many wishes on your gaming!

  10. cori sparklecloud / Oct 8 2013 7:54 pm

    So nice to hear about good things in the world for a change.

  11. Mackenzie Sheen / Oct 8 2013 7:54 pm

    i’m not deaf but i know sign language because i have some friends who are deaf.

  12. I am so glad to see something like this, and i love that KI wants to help open doors that others may not have noticed. I am married to a (non-gamer) CODA (child of deaf adults for comment readers) and we are teaching our daughter sign-language and some deaf culture aspects. I love that this could be a great way for her to connect with others who are a part of that in ways she may not be able to experience otherwise. Brava!

    Grace Ravensword – Wizard 101

    Red Victoria Donnelly – Pirate 101

  13. Anonymous / Oct 9 2013 2:55 am

    This article is really beautiful, as now I understand a little more about judging people who may not be able to see/hear etc. It’s amazing to see that although you are deaf, you are just as capable of doing anything like any other person.

  14. frostcaller / Oct 9 2013 5:24 am

    If I’m being completely honest with you, Kelsey, your life story moved and touched me. You know, there are times when I struggle to overcome many obstacles in my everyday life, and when I hear stories like yours, it just reminds me that I’m not trying hard enough.

    Nothing is impossible when you have the will to move forward, and you just proved that. And I think that having a game with not limitations when it comes to communicating with others is a given, so I’m really happy that you found a place where you can be yourself and interact with our amazing community.

    I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: very inspirational and motivational life story, Kelsey. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, it means a lot more than you think. 🙂

  15. Caroline Dalton / Oct 9 2013 10:38 am

    I also have cousins that are deaf, I love your article

  16. Anonymous / Oct 9 2013 12:11 pm

    I believe you’re inspirational, and I think its pretty cool that you play Wizard101. For one: Games are a way of communicating, and two: You sound like an awesome player.
    Rock on, fellow wizard.
    -Samuel Moontail

  17. Jenna FireThorn / Oct 9 2013 3:07 pm

    Hi Kelsey,
    Great job on the article. I love your sharing some of what it is to be deaf. Love that you share “no need to apologies”. 🙂 You are after all, just people. Just like everyone else. We all have limitations of some sort. 🙂
    I love the different levels of chat this game has. I have open chat, and love being able to develop friendships with in the game. I am not deaf, but prefer to use the chat rather than one of the verbal team speak programs. it is in some ways more intimate.
    I have played Wizard101 for about 4 years now and I have found several close friends through this game. We are a family within the game. And some have become so close i consider them as close as family in the real world.
    We have walked through some pretty tough times together. Real world times. Two of my wizard sisters have lost there husbands. One of my wizard friends has gone through a marriage separation and still suffers missing his kids. We support each other in the game and in the real world if by no other way than just being there and listening. It has meant a lot to me.

    Thank you so much for your great article. Would love to meet you. 🙂

    Jenna FireThorn

  18. stormy555123 / Oct 9 2013 4:06 pm

    That was a beautiful heart felt article. I am not deaf but disabled from car wreck. I could never imagine what having something like not being able to hear, all my life, would be like. I could tell you take great pride in all you do and you should. I am an old lady now but I remember my whole childhood of no computers or video games. I was 18 before I ever saw one. I was 21 before my husband and I could afford our first Apple Computer lol. (It was the first Apple put out to the public).
    You are very blessed to be both who you were and who you are now. I love meeting what I call another family wizard. I say family because no matter who, what or where we are we all seem to be one big family with a common goal. Your story just shows us different family members with different things to get past. You have some awesome friends (family) from our group. The way it sounds you are one tough cookie :). I am so glad you shared with us. I hope my redheaded (old) pyromancer someday meets her family 101 twin (yup except the hairdo lol) . In the meantime know you are blessed and a very special person with an awesome life both behind you and ahead of you :). So push forward wizard and sail on pirate!

  19. Sean Redhammer / Oct 9 2013 9:57 pm

    Kelsey, We have known each other for a few years now. I was reading this story and as I did, I started to cry. You have always been such a strong woman and conquered the worst of situations. I have gained allot more respect for you from reading this article.

  20. Stephen Bruns / Oct 10 2013 1:13 pm

    That was awesome.

  21. Andrea / Oct 10 2013 4:45 pm

    While reading this article it made me respect deaf people even more, not that i didn’t already.

  22. Sharon Navarrette / Oct 11 2013 6:50 am

    thank so much its great to learn about deaf people. Like you I was born into a world with out computers. I worked for Atari and got my kids invoked with the gaming world. My son still is. I started playing Wizards101 due to my grandson, when he moved on I stayed and got my friends to play. I have met a lot of people in Wizards101 and Pirates101. Just goes to prove you are not to old to be educated. It wonderful to be educated through Wizards101. Good luck on your quests.

  23. Anonymous / Oct 15 2013 6:34 pm

    Awww this article brighten my day. I love this !!!

  24. Terri / Oct 16 2013 6:46 am

    Hi Kelsey, I was playing the other day and saw you in Ravenwood I believe. My friend and I, here name in game is also Kelsey, always quest together and we were running around getting our frost giant spell quest done. When I saw you I thought you were my friend until i saw your last name. I am so glad you play and I hope to see you in game again. I know you cannot friend everyone so i will just say hi to you and let you know I left you a comment on here. Congrats on your website for wizard101 and pirate101, I will have to check it out.

  25. Elijah / Oct 16 2013 7:47 pm

    I never really occured to me that there are Deaf people playing the game also. I wonder how many I’ve come accross that are actually deaf. It’d be nice to be friends with someone who I can say is deaf on the game. I’m currently in my third year of ASL. I’m strongly considering a career in ASL interpretation. I’ve got no real life friends who are deaf mainly because I’m not one to be socially active in general. Obviously ASL will be changing it to a degree, especially if I do maintain that career path.

  26. Anonymous / Oct 23 2013 1:16 am

    great article my family works with deaf people so can can sign a little but they are just as bright if notmore

  27. Suri MoonTalon / Oct 23 2013 8:42 am

    I. LOVE. THIS. GAME!!!!! Once again, I am amazed, awed, and received a big emotional boost from KingsIsle’s fantastic work! Kelsey, you are wonderful; this was a truly informative, interesting, and heartfelt article, one that made me think about another great way this game is truly FOR EVERYONE!! Having hearing, I truly wish you COULD hear the music and voice acting, simply because they match the quality of the rest of the game; however, I know you are getting just as much enjoyment as I am from the marvelous visuals, detail, and oh my the COLORS! I just LOVE the richness, vibrance, and depth of the colors here! It’s a visual feast; sometimes I almost feel drunk on the colors! 😀 That aside, I know from mine and my daughter’s personal experiences on this game that people can connect through this who might not be able to connect in many (or any) other ways. She has a friend she met here who is older, in a nursing home, and who simply could not deal with other people. The staff introduced her to Wizard 101, and she has become much more outgoing with online and real-life people; she is pleased, my daughter is pleased, and one more person is reconnected with the rest of our family of humanity. ROCK ON, KELSEY!

  28. Rhemas / Oct 24 2013 10:04 am

    Inspiring, wonderful, beautiful. We “elder” gamers came from a time that we had to go to arcades to get our game on(all those quarters!) And games like baseball and basketball were played in the streets and back alleys. You gave us a view of a not so unique inner world and how its brightens your experience. I had tinnitus from the Gulf War for more than 10yrs and started playing ToonTown(Disney) to get my mind away from it. Then, like you I saw the add for Wizard101 and it was no turning back. My ringing has since gone, and I do appreciate my senses(especially my eyes). I feel guilty not learning ASL during those years but am excellent at lip reading.
    *Note in wizard101 central’s site under name : Rhemas

  29. Jessica / Oct 28 2013 8:20 pm

    I’m deaf too! I know how you feel, only i have cochlear implants that allow me to hear when i wear them! I do exact English sign language, its similar to what you sign. I learned how to sign before i could talk. I’m a proud player lvl 56 on Wizard101. I stopped playing Pirate101 because I couldn’t get crowns or member. My wiz name is Autumn Spiritfriend, i am life and you know the level already. Please reply soon

  30. BRENDA STEGMAN / Dec 8 2013 10:40 pm

    I was checking out wizard101, because my daughter loves, harry potter, and I showed her the site .We shared are comments, about the site. I love that self expression is involved, and that there are task to accomplish. As well as, you are rewarded, for a job well done.

  31. Great blog you have here but I was curious if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics
    discussed here? I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get
    responses from other experienced people that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

    Thank you!


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