Famous Deaf People

This list is, by no means, complete; in fact, it is only the beginning.  It is our goal at Vital **SIGNS** to continue to add to this list because we know that with Deaf awareness, more Deaf and hard of hearing people will be given the opportunity to do the great things in life they were meant to do.  This being said, there are many still who have not allowed the limits of society to stop them, and we have only just BEGUN to compile a list of these great individuals.  There are many, many Deaf and hard of hearing people who have made their mark on society throughout history.  If you have a suggestion for a name you would like to see included here, please mailto:FamousDeafNames@gmail.com.  Please include 1) the correct spelling of the individual's name 2) his/her claim to fame (other than deafness) 3)photo of individual if possible.  We would always like to give credit where its due, so if you would like to receive credit for your entry, please include your name and your city and state.

Please keep watching for our new page, "Deaf & Hard of Hearing Role Models."  We need your input to make this page successful.  We are looking for Deaf and HH people TODAY who serve as positive role models for our young people and other Deaf and HH.  If you know of someone who sets a great example of the "CAN DO" mentality in the Deaf/HH world, please send his/her story to the same email address above.  Make sure to include your contact information so that we may verify facts before printing.

Linda Bove       Linda was the librarian on Sesame Street.  Ms. Bove is a profoundly Deaf individual (whose father, by the way lived in West Palm Beach and was a proud member of the WPB Deaf Club until his recent passing) Linda introduced sign language to many preschool and elementary school aged children long before many of them had any idea what being deaf even meant.  Ms. Bove is not only a teacher through Sesame Street, but she is also an accomplished actor.

Helen Keller
      (1880-1968) Arguably one of the most famous Deaf/blind people in history, Helen Keller, with the amazing help of her teacher, Annie Sullivan, broke countless communication barriers to ultimately embark on an international lecturing series where Ms. Keller was the actual SPEAKER!  Ms. Keller fielded questions from the audience as any other lecturer might, but with Ms. Sullivan as her tactile sign language interpreter (sign language by FEEL into the palm of her hand)

Marlee Matlin
     Tremendously accomplished actor and at the age of 21, the youngest winner of an Oscar for best actress in Children of a Lesser God in 1986.  Ms. Matlin is now married and Mom to four, but her acting career is going strong with more than four dozen movie credits to her name and now adding producing and directing to mix.  Ms. Matlin works exclusively with her professional sign language interpreter, Jack Jason, who is also her business partner.  This season Ms. Matlin is in hot competition with her co-stars working for charity on Celebrity Apprentice on NBC, Sunday evenings at 8:00pm, and yes, you will see her working closely with her interpreter Jack Jason.

Ludwid Van Beethoven  (1770-1827) a brilliant symphonic composer who lost his hearing at the age of twenty but continued to write symphonies in his head and successfully bring them to life for the enjoyment of others.

CJ Jones  CJ is an amazingly funny Deaf comedian, and he breaks the barrier of sound!  You do not need to understand sign language to enjoy his shows (but to be a part of his full program, it helps!)  He tailors his program beautifully for sign language impaired people to enjoy equally, and let me tell you, as one who has been privileged to not only see one of his shows but to also have the opportunity to chat with Mr. Jones in person, I highly recommend seeing him wherever you can, but bring a box of tissues, because he will have you laughing so hard you will be crying!!!  Make sure to look for the new movie now out on DVD, See What I'm Saying (poster behind CJ), highlighting the lives and talents of four Deaf performers.  This is definitely one for the DVD library.  Find it on http://www.seewhatimsaying.com

Phyllis Frelich  Most recently seen on CSI, playing the role of Mrs. Grissom, the Deaf mother of Gil Grissom and the reason for his knowing American Sign Language on the show.  Ms. Frelich is a veteran actress having made appearances on such shows as ER, Sue Thomas, LA Law, Sister Sarah, and Santa Barbara to name just a few.  She has starred in motion pictures including A Bridge to Silence and Sweet Nothing In Her Ear

Anthony Natale  has performed in numerous TV shows including the Ellen Show and most recently CSI where he, unfortunately was only onscreen for a few minutes before he met his demise with a car bomb.  Mr. Natale is featured in the Signing Naturally textbook series, helping students understand ASL through a practical video approach.  You may have seen Mr. Natale in Mr. Holland's Opus as the adult (toward the end of the movie) Deaf son of Mr. Holland played by Richard Dreyfus.  Expect big things from Mr. Natale.  The talent is there!

Ashley Fiolek  Profoundly deaf since birth, Ashely Fiolek boasts being a two time Women's Motorcross Champion.  She is endorsed by Redbull and can currently be seen nationally in their new commercial where she demonstrates her incredible biking skill and attributes it all to Redbull giving her "wings" -- all in ASL, of course.  Ashley's family moved to St. Augustine, Florida from Northern Michigan when she was very little so that she could attend our prestigious Florida School for the Deaf and Blind--the largest school of its kind in the US. 

Thank you to Darren Jacoby for sending this photo and bringing Ashley's info to our website!

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