Mary Dignan is a deaf artist who was misdiagnosed until the age of five. She earned her undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University in 1976, and embarked upon a career that included newspaper reporting, legislative work for the U.S. House of Representatives and the California State Assembly Committee on Agriculture, public relations and governmental liaison work with one of California's largest and most complex water agencies, and her own consulting business in the field of water and natural resources management policy. In 1990, a year after she was certified legally blind she started law school. In 1994, she earned her juris doctorate with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. She was admitted to the California State Bar, and began practicing water and natural resources law. In 1997, she discovered she had a brain tumor and underwent surgery to remove it. The tumor and the surgery exacerbated and complicated her vision and hearing losses, and she has not practiced law since. She now focuses her energy on writing, public speaking, and her art.