This is an unfair question because Deaf History has too many great persons to only choose one. If I had to choose it would be a tie between Pedro Ponce de Leon, Juan Pablo de Bonet and Abbe Charles Michel de L’Epee.
I believe these inspiring individuals took it upon themselves to do what no one wanted or even thought was possible up to that point. It inspires me that they were the first one to give “voices” to all those people that nobody “heard”. But I am far more impressed by whoever made or was part of the Total Communication movement. I strongly believe that each person should be allowed to learn and be heard by any means possible, but more than that, by any means that works for them.
Having myself a learning disability, I have often been discouraged and even offended; for I had to learn the way everyone does or risk being treated like I shouldn’t be learning anything at all, which was often the case. This is the problem, people usually make you do things the majority does, just because they don’t know better, or they don’t understand. So I don’t see why it has to be orally or signing, any means that allows and gives the opportunity to any person to be “heard” is a great tool for me, orally, signing, written, fingerspelled, facial expressions and so on, etc.
Kind of thinking it, whoever was responsible for the total communication movement, is my favorite person in deaf history, because it allows deaf people to learn and be heard with any tool/means possible that they feel is best for them.