There’s no typical day of work for the City of Olathe Legal Department. Leonard Hall, a deaf attorney who works for the city, takes care of land acquisition, eminent domain, zoning, and construction contracts. Toss in a little bit of ADA, Tax Law and Development Standards, and you can see why the Assistant City Attorney is busy from eight in the morning to six at night. On Tuesday nights, he is involved with City Council meetings.
“I like my job,” says Leonard. “I usually see the ‘final products,’ such as commercial shopping centers, interchanges, road improvements or bridge projects completed by the city.”
Leonard has a background in business and he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Social Sciences at Emporia State University. He attended Emporia on a scholarship for long distance running and participated in the World Games for the Deaf. “I hold one world record for the deaf for the three-mile run and four American records in other events,” Leonard shared.
Leonard worked in his father’s business, Hall Truck Line, which gave him a solid background in business. With a strong desire to help people and provide service to deaf people, Leonard decided to continue his schooling to become an attorney. He obtained a Juris Doctor Degree in Law at Washburn University Law School in Kansas.
Leonard still finds time to write a weekly column for the Olathe News. He became a columnist in 1993 and has produced over 700 articles for the newspaper. He is also the coordinator of the Kansas City Coffee Chat– a social, monthly gathering of deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
Leonard’s newest challenge is learning to adjust to the new sounds produced by his cochlear implant. He had surgery in July of this year and wears a hearing aid in the other ear. “I am going through a world of changes with my hearing,” says Leonard. “My ability to understand speech went down to 5% before the surgery. Now I am back up to understanding 30% of speech with my implant and my hearing aid. I hope to increase it to 50% with the implant.”
Leonard is enjoying the new sounds but explains that it is a lot of hard work. “I like it, but it is a very difficult process — first the surgery, second, the mapping to increase the level of hearing and understanding, and third, the difficulty of adjusting to each level of hearing. It has been a long four months of making a lot of adjustments and many more months to go.”
Leonard is married to Charla, who is hard of hearing and has a vision impairment. They have one pre-teen son, Daniel who has hearing in the normal range.