Last night, I was asked, “Do you struggle being deaf out there in the world?”
I sighed and responded, “Well, well, I want you acknowledge what accomplishments and contributions Deaf people had done all over the world.”
But then I realized that I shouldn’t be explaining to just this person. I should be writing to you all instead. I mean everybody out there should know what the Deaf community are capable of.
Few Deaf leaders I’d like to mention:
A Deaf Australian woman, Drisana Levitzke-Gray, who was named Young Australian of the Year 2015. She had been raising awareness about sign language and human rights of Deaf people. She had inspired many of us. She had been only 22 years old (I believe so).
Everybody knows how complicated North Korea is. They’re ruthless. They’re dangerous yet a Deaf German has come and found a way to convince North Korea to allow and release some Deaf North Koreans to visit the XVII World Congress of World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in Istanbul, Turkey as ambassadors. And the best part about this one was that there was a moment where everybody at the World Congress of WFD got to witness Deaf North Koreans and South Koreans meeting for the first time. Oh, yeahh… That was a very special moment for all of us!
Four Deaf co-founders started a company, MotionSavvy, focuses in the field of gestural-recognition that identifies our sign language and converts signs into text on devices for breaking a communication barrier and improving our communication accessibility. They recently announced that they would be funded $500k by Wells Fargo. Given the fact that it would be quite difficult to land a large amount and get in one of the top accelerators in the United States, MotionSavvy’s gonna go a long way now.
We also have a Deaf staffer at the White House of the United States, Leah Katz-Hernandez. She is the current receptionist of the United States (or what those in Washington like to abbreviate as ROTUS.) She works closely with the President of the United States. Not only that, her job is to greet all of the people who visits the White House in the United States, including world leaders and high-level profile people. Pretty cool, huh?
Deaf West Theatre’s production of the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening is now performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken English in Broadway! The productions returned to the Broadway for a limited run (18 weeks) at the Brooks Atkinson Theater. They’re a now big hit and they’ve been published about by The New York Times. If they’re still running when I return to the US, I’ll be sure to give ’em a visit! Not often you’d get to see Deaf performers in a Broadway show!
And we have a Deaf model, Nyle DiMarco, who has competed as a finalist in a reality television series and interactive competition, America’s Next Top Model hosted by Tyra Banks on The CW Network. The competition is currently being aired. Throughout the competition so far, he is acting as an ambassador for the Deaf community by exposing the awareness about us to the world. He educates the world to look beyond the deafness and see the potentials of a person rather than the deafness or disability itself. He’s good-looking dude, you’d probably want to marry him. =P
Lastly, I’ve been traveling the world for seven months. You’ve no idea how many successful Deaf people are out there. I’ve learned many sign languages. Many Deaf people I met in the world have always welcomed me. (It’s so easy to make new friends within the community). And I made countless hearing friends. I’m currently working with big-time companies like NorthFace, Patagonia, etc. Not only that, Philippines Airline has recently contacted me for a photography gig in a destination.
Bottom line: age doesn’t matter, skin doesn’t matter, height doesn’t matter, intelligence doesn’t matter, disability doesn’t matter. What matters the most is that you believe in yourself.
Now, do I really have to give you an answer? Have I said enough? Maybe I should ask, aren’t our actions enough yet?
We are capable of doing anything; we have the knowledge and skill to take whatever it is.
However, obstacles do still exist in our lives but, again, let’s remind ourselves the fact there aren’t as many obstacles today as it used to be.