My favorite deaf person would have to be William Stokoe. The reason for this is that if he had not brought the importance of American Sign Language to the public then they might still be oppressed.
I have several deaf family and have watched them communicate in the community and how people perceive them. Since I am older now I see that that has changed as well. We have interpreters for all other languages but this one was the last, it seems, to catch on. It is now offered in some schools as a foreign language. I have seen hearing people make their deaf children learn to communicate without sign language and it is not fair.
My own grandparents had 6 children and 4 being deaf. Back in the 50’s it was different then it is now. They never learned to sign and used the hearing children to communicate with the deaf ones. The kids were sent away to school for the year and then came home on breaks and holidays. I think that would be hard to have to disconnect with your kids. Now if you have a deaf child they encourage you to learn ASL and be involved in their teaching and up-bringing. Then they did not encourage it and in fact they told them to talk with them and make them read lips.
It has come a long way and I hope to see more progress as well. This guy William opened that door for the deaf community. You cannot force a deaf person to learn only by lips it is not natural. I think that people were afraid of the deaf and did not know how to handle them so they made them conform to the hearing world and that is why there was such a battle on how they should be taught. Until they realized that deaf people are the same as hearing but with different challenges.
There are a lot of great people that have made the deaf community better and it is hard to pick just one. However, William Stokoe broke the old way of thinking and convinced people that it is better for them to have ASL. I hope this explains why I picked this person. My true heros are my own family who have overcome so much over time and I am very proud of them.