ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Taha Ibrahim is a senior at Forest Hills Northern High School, where he is a part of the National Honors Society, band program and American Sign Language program.

Although his school day is full of the sounds of his saxophone during band practice and the chatter of friends in the hallway, his life at home consists of whispers and gestures. Both of Taha’s parents are deaf and communicate through sign language.

“When we moved to the United States, I was around the age of four and started school. (My parents) began learning American Sign Language rather than Arabic Sign Language,” Taha translated for his parents, Ali and Maryam.

They both lost their hearing when they were babies and grew up learning Arabic Sign Language and Arabic written word. When they got married, had two boys and moved to the U.S., they had to learn two new languages: English and American Sign Language.

Maryam Ibrahim signed, “We went to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services to learn person-to-person.”

The Ibrahims didn’t know if their sons would be born hearing or deaf but were prepared either way.

Maryam explained, “We knew what we needed to do either way, and we were just going to teach sign anyway.”

When Taha was in fourth grade, he said he was pretty good at sign language and could communicate effectively. That’s when he started translating and helping his parents learn English while they helped him learn how to sign.

Life in a mostly quiet home is all Taha and his brother, Mustafa, who is two years younger, have known. Taking American Sign Language in school has been a relatively easy transition for Taha since he already knows most of the signs. He said he’s learning a lot about deaf culture.

“Honestly, I love it. It’s been a great learning experience, and it’s brought me closer to my parents,” he said. His parents are excited that more people are learning to sign in school and hope to see it catch on more broadly.

Their boys also both play the saxophone, which they enjoy despite being unable to hear all the tones.

Taha said, “A lot of deaf people do enjoy music. It’s not just the tones, like, it’s the vibrations.”

Despite the challenges that come with parents who are deaf and raising teenagers who are hearing, this family doesn’t see their situation as a hardship but rather a gift.

Ali Ibrahim signed, “The boys have been a great help to me, and the whole family is better because of it… We are proud.”