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Oganes Aladzhyan

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Oganes Aladzhyan, Senior Custodian, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical CenterOganes Aladzhyan, Senior Custodian, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

Aladzhyan has been keeping UCLA Health spic and span for 23 years.

The custodian employs American Sign Language and a positive attitude to overcome his hearing disability.

Using American Sign Language to communicate, Aladzhyan spoke to us through Clara Huerta, ASL interpreter, UCLA Interpreter Services Department

How did you first come to UCLA?
A long time ago, I went to Marlton School (in Los Angeles), a school for the deaf. They brought us to UCLA one day to see if we liked it. I saw a lot of tables and trees, and saw people cleaning. We were able to visit the kitchen, computer rooms and see all the machinery here. My school advisor said we could get a job anywhere, so in 1987, I decided to apply for a job at UCLA. I worked in the CHS building before getting transferred to work at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

What's it like to work at UCLA?
I like it here and I love my job. I pick up the trash, sweep and clean the tables in the Dining Commons. I also push the beds back and forth when I need to clean the area and I'm always working. I work really hard and never complain.

How do your supervisors communicate with you?
I'm teaching my boss how to sign. She signs a little. Sometimes if they need to communicate with me, they call my brother and then he texts me. Or sometimes if it's something really important, the interpreter comes and helps. I have a keyboard, and when I text my deaf friends, we understand each other.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The windows are really hard. If people sit in the chair and lean back, head smudges get on the window. That happens every day, all the time. When people are smoking outside, I point to the "No Smoking" sign and try to tell them that they will need to smoke somewhere else.

What has been one of the most interesting things you've seen on the job?
A couple of months ago, the trash was on fire. I was moving a trash barrel and I smelled something burning. There was a lady with a computer having lunch and I grabbed her water bottle and somebody else's bottle and poured the water in the trash to put out the fire. I don't know who started the fire or how it happened. Maybe someone flicked a cigarette. I couldn't hear if there was a fire alarm but someone called 911 and security came. Everything turned out okay.

What is it like being deaf in a mostly hearing community?
I'm the only deaf person here, so sometimes it's really boring. I have nobody to talk to. Sometimes I have a good time with my co-workers and laugh, but I don't really talk that much and can't really start off big conversations.

I used to be a little uncomfortable around other deaf people because I didn't know all the signs. I was born in Armenia and the sign language was different there than it is here. They have different hand shapes. I was 15 years old when I came to America and I didn't know much and it was really awkward for me to communicate. But then I learned American Sign Language at Marlton School and that helped. And now I get along with everybody.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Once in awhile, I like going to Las Vegas to play the slot machines. I don't gamble very much, but I have a good time. I also like to clean my house and play with my three small dogs. I also enjoy watering the grass.