(London, ON, CA)
I was born hard of hearing and I have heard of a few famous deaf people on and off in my life such as Helen Keller, Beethoven, Alexander Graham Bell, Heather Whitestone, Sue Thomas, Deanne Bray, Marlee Matlin, etc. I admire everyone that I listed above especially Sue Thomas for landing an F.B.I. job because of her lipreading skills (maybe I should try to apply for the F.B.I. because I can lipread too), Heather Whitestone for winning the Miss America 1995 pageant (I loved how she gloried God through her dance) and Marlee Matlin, Sean Berdy, Katie Leclerc, & Ryan Lane for acting in the Switched at Birth show (my #1 favourite television show).
But to answer your question, I have decided to pick someone else that I have not heard of until yesterday when I read your Famous Deaf People page for the first time to be more fair because it isn’t fair that I choose someone that I have already heard of because I’m hearing-impaired and my interest in deaf culture growing up. Of all the people that I have not heard of, I have chosen William “Dummy” Hoy. Why? It brought back memories of my childhood. I played softball for two summers, or was it three? I can’t remember. Anyway, I remembered during the first summer when I played softball, when it’s my turn to go up to bat, I had to turn off my hearing aids because if I didn’t, it would whistle when I put the helmet on. Which is not a problem for me because I can lipread but I realized two problems with this. First, I couldn’t shift my face to the umpire’s face fast enough to read whether it was a strike or a ball and how many that was so far. Second, I couldn’t remember if the umpire wore a mask or not, but if he/she did, I would have trouble reading the lips behind the mask. Then I was embarrassed afterward when my coach had to come and get me if I was strike out. This method was not working out for me and I needed to find another way so I wouldn’t be embarrassed again. My little brother & I had fun making up few signs to tell me what number is this and then a ball or a strike. So for the rest of that summer and one/two other summers after that, one of my highlights of playing softball was to count on and watch my brother or other family members stand near by the first base and sign the umpire’s call when it’s my turn to bat. If I had known William “Dummy” Hoy back then, I would probably have used Dummy’s signs instead of my brother’s & mine signs in honour of him.
It’s interesting Michelle when you say, no one really invented sign language because every deaf person in their homes probably invented it. I believe it because it did happen to me when it came to playing softball. And then you explained how it became French/American Sign Language because of the deaf children. Very interesting facts to learn!
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