(West Columbia, SC, USA)
In order for a person to be a significant role in history, they really need to be known. Someone like Helen Keller gets the credit for being the first deaf/blind person because that’s who we have heard about. She made an impact by “getting heard” by the population. (pardon the pun)
For me, personally, the deaf person who stands out for me is Marlee Matlin. She is not the most famous deaf person by any means, but she is the one that has made the most impact for me. She is the first person that I really saw on any kind of regular basis. From her movies and TV shows, she is out there and showing that a deaf person’s life can be rich and fulfilling and that anyone can touch your life. By seeing her using sign language, she has made me (a hearing person) want to learn sign.
I’m not very good at it yet, but I continue to try to learn. I now get the opportunity to use sign language on a daily basis (though my vocabulary is still very small) at my job as a nurse. I work with mentally and physically handicapped young women and have one who is deaf and one that is autistic and doesn’t speak but can do some sign language to let her basic needs be known. Marlee might not be the most well known deaf person out there, but she’s definitely the one that got me wanting to learn the language.
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