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Stephen Colbert

Meet Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert is an American political satirist, comedian, talk show host, writer, and actor. He is best known for being the host of The Colbert Report, a satirical news show on Comedy Central. Less known is that Colbert is actually deaf in his right ear because of a botched surgery on a perforated eardrum in his childhood, which permanently damaged his inner ear. Before this, Colbert had had hopes of being a marine biologist, but the damage to his ear made this an impossible goal and changed the course of his life.

Colbert became interested in acting early on in his life, developing interest in improvisation once he went to college. His career in comedy began when he was an understudy for Steve Carrell at Second City Chicago.

After many smaller gigs, Colbert worked as a correspondent on The Daily Show, a news-parody show on Comedy Central. Here, Colbert was exposed to a larger audience. In 2005, he left The Daily Show to host a spin-off series, The Colbert Report, which follows The Daily Show's news-parody concept. Since its premiere, The Colbert Report has achieved status as one of Comedy Central's highest-rated series. Colbert himself has earned three Emmy nominations. In 2006, he was invited to perform at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.

Colbert was named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2006 and 2012. He has also written a book, "I Am America (And So Can You!)" which was number one on the New York Times Best Seller List.

In April, 2014, CBS announced that Colbert "will succeed David Letterman as the host of The Late Show" which will occur after Letterman's retirement.





Meet Derrick Coleman

Derrick Lamont Coleman

Derrick Lamont Coleman, born October 18, 1990, is an American football fullback for the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL. He is the first legally deaf offensive player in the NFL to date. (There have been two other deaf NFL professionals, Bonnie Sloan in 1973 and Kenny Walker in 1991, but both played defensive positions.)

Coleman was diagnosed with a genetic anomaly when he was three years old, a condition that resulted in the gradual decline of his hearing over time. He was bullied in his younger years by classmates who targeted the different kid, often calling him names like "Four Ears." It wasn't until Coleman discovered football that he developed a strong self-esteem, as well as an affinity for lip-reading. In the early 2000s, Coleman was playing for his university team at UCLA, and could only marginally hear out of one ear with the use of powerful hearing aids. His teammates and coach quickly learned that, although deaf, Coleman was a force to be reckoned with. He was focused on the field and so skilled at lip-reading that the true extent of his abilities was clear. Not being able to hear did not affect his performance; if anything, it made his focus sharper, his perception more intense, and, as a bonus, he is able to lip-read what referees are saying when they are totally out of earshot.

After his time at UCLA ended, Coleman was overlooked during the 2011 draft. It is something that both Coleman and his family suspect had to do with his hearing. However, in 2012, the Minnesota Vikings took a chance on him and signed Coleman to their practice squad. They cut him early in the 2012 season because of inconsistent plays and repeated fumbles, not because of his hearing.

After a season of practice and hard work, the Seattle Seahawks signed him at the end of 2012. Coleman quickly proved himself to be a skilled player—as long as the quarterback was willing to communicate the plays face-to-face. He was rewarded with the fullback position, and has proven himself as a valuable player ever since. His ability to focus on nothing but the play at hand and to avoid the many noisy distractions on the field is one of his greatest assets to the team. Coleman is still a young player, but his professional career looks promising, for himself as well as for other deaf or hard of hearing NFL hopefuls.





Meet Ashley Fiolek

Ashley Fiolek

At the age of 23, she is already a prominent motocross racer in the Women's Motocross Association. Ashley was born on October 22nd, 1990 in Dearborn, Michigan. She was born Deaf. In 1998, her family moved to St. Augustine, Florida, so that Ashley could attend the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, which is the largest school for the Deaf and Blind in America. As a youngster, Ashley took on many interests, including ballet, track, basketball, and, of course, biking.

At a very young age, Ashley loved to ride with her parents; she rode on the front of her mother's 4-wheeler, and her father's bike. At the mere age of three, her parents gave her a Yamaha PW50, a small bike suitable for children. However, Fiolek didn't ride her own very often, because she did not like the training wheels attached to it. Her passion grew, and by the age of seven she had already begun racing. Despite the obstacles she has had to face with being unable to hear the starting shot, Ashley has many awards under her belt; she is the 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012 WMA Pro National Champion. She also won her first gold medal in the X-games in 2009, and her second in the following year. In 2009, she became the first female to be signed to the American Honda Racing factory team, and in the year before she was the first female to make the cover of Transworld Motocross Magazine. She has also been featured in Vogue, and a Red Bull commercial.

Fiolek also has a small amount of acting under her belt. In 2012, she appeared on the ABC family show Switched at Birth as Robin Swiller. She played a motocross racer romantically interested in the main character, Emmett Bledsoe. Ashley also appeared on Conan in June of 2012. She was the first deaf person to ever be featured on the show.

Although Ashley has had her stumbles along the way (she has faced multiple injuries throughout her career), she continues to be an inspiration. She proves that, once again, a person is capable of anything they put their mind to; they just need the passion and drive behind them. In 2012, Ashley announced that it would be her last season in WMX, but not her last season racing overall.





Halle Berry

Meet Halle Berry

As we may know, it is possible to lose hearing from unnatural causes, such as trauma. It is unexpected, and can sometimes be very devastating. However, it is important to remember that it is possible to still be very successful after becoming Hard of Hearing or Deaf. Halle Berry is a perfect example of this.

Many may not even know that the famous Academy Award winning actress only has 20% hearing. This wasn't always the case, however. Halle Berry was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1966. At the time, she had perfect hearing. It wasn't until she was a young adult that the actress lost her hearing as a cause of physical abuse.

Berry was punched with such force by a former boyfriend that her left eardrum burst, causing deafness. For a long time, the actress was quiet about the change, but now she uses it as a tool to speak out against domestic violence. She once stated, "I want women to stand up and break the silence and get rid of the shame and the fear and find a way to stand up for themselves". She hopes that being open about her hearing loss will enable women to take a stand against abuse.

Halle Berry does not let the fact that she is hard of hearing stop her from accomplishing her goals. She is a proud supporter of The Family Justice Centers, which assist in domestic violence prevention, and has continued to act throughout the years. Not only has she won an Oscar for her 2001 role in Monster's Ball, but also she has been nominated for 62 other awards, and won 36, including a Golden Globe and an Emmy. She has acted in 46 different productions, ranging from serious (Things We Lost in the Fire), to funny (Movie 43). Currently, she is filming for a TV show that will air on CBS this summer, Extant, in which she will play an astronaut trying to reconnect with her family after an extended stay in outer space. In addition, Berry will be returning to her role as "Storm" from the X-men series in the 2014 film X-men: Days of Future Past. Halle Berry is a truly inspirational and versatile actress who has never allowed her hard of hearing tear her down. On the contrary, it gives her the strength to stand up for herself and for other victims of domestic abuse. She is truly an inspiration to us all.





Meet Daniel "Danny" Elfman

Daniel "Danny" Elfman

Daniel "Danny" Elfman was born on May 19th 1953. He grew up around Los Angelos, and was largely unaware of his talent for composing the first twenty years of his life. Initially, he enter the film industry as an actor, but in 1980 one of his scores made a debut in the film Forbidden Zone, which was directed by his older brother. Since then, he has been nominated for four Academy Awards, and won an Emmy for his theme for the TV show Desperate Housewives and a Grammy for his work in Tim Burton's Batman. He is also known for his scores in nearly every one of Tim Burton's films, as well as being the creator of The Simpsons main theme and the lead singer and songwriter for the band Oingo Boingo from 1976-1995. It is his work in Oingo Boingo that Elfman says contributed the most to his hearing loss, stating that in the last few years he was with the band he had begun to develop significant hearing loss from the continuous exposure to extreme noise levels. Although he believes that his hearing loss was partially due to family history, he has stated that he will never reunite with his former band because he does not wish to worsen his or his other band member's hearing.

Although Elfman no longer performs in Oingo Boingo, he continues to compose music for countless films, TV shows, and performances. In recent years he has been the composer for the Cirque du Soleil, the 2013 film Oz: the Great and Powerful, and the film Mr. Peabody and Sherman, which is debuting early this year. Elfman continues to prove day in and day out that if you want your dreams badly enough, anything is possible, and it doesn't matter what obstacles come in your way. He does not let his hearing loss stop him from doing what he loves, despite how significant it may be.





Meet Nina Falaise

Nina Falaise

Nina Falaise is a prominent ballet dancer, despite the fact that she was turned away from the Royal Ballet School at the age of ten for being deaf. She was born profoundly deaf in 1955, having been temporarily starved of oxygen. Her disability did not stop her from taking a great interest in dance from a very young age, and her goal is to inspire more people of the deaf community to take up dance. She has stated, "I feel that dance is one of the most natural things for deaf people, because deaf people are visual, and more attuned to body movement". Despite being turned away from the Royal Ballet School, she was almost immediately accepted by Ballet Rambert, where she would go on to win many prizes for her skills.

The school didn't originally realize that Falaise was deaf, as they did not give medical exams, like the Royal Ballet School did. When it finally was revealed that she was deaf, she was fully accepted as a dancer and deaf student at Ballet Rambert.

Falaise began her professional dancing career by the age of sixteen, after several years of shadowing the Hungarian ballet coach Maria Fay. She began touring Europe with a group of dance companies.

Nowadays, Falaise has turned to both teaching and creating choreography and encourages those that are deaf to dance, as well. According to her, deaf students can become even greater dancers than the hearing, because they are not reliant upon the instructions of a teacher, but rather the vibrations and movements of the body. Falaise utilizes vibrations and the small amount of hearing that she does possess to move to the music. "A vibration is an emotion...Vibrations move me. There is a difference between a vibration from a violin or a drum, for instance". She uses her own techniques of learning to teach others how to dance, as well.

Nina Falaise is living proof that one doesn't need to be able to hear in order to have a successful career in the music or dance industry. The most important factors are passion and determination- if one possesses these two things, they can go anywhere. You can read The Telegraph's interview with her here or watch her dance on her Vimeo page.





Linda Bove

Meet Linda Bove

Linda Bove was born to deaf parents in Garfield, New Jersey in 1945. She is most well known for her portrayal of Sesame Street's deaf librarian, joining in 1971 and becoming a full-time cast member in ‘77, where she became an inspiration for deaf and hearing children alike. She used sign language to communicate with both her friends of Sesame Street, and her dog! Her career on Sesame Street lasted until 2003, giving her the honor of having the longest running role on TV in history for a deaf person. She also taught sign language to learners through her Sesame Street books. She is also known for her performance as Fonzie's deaf girlfriend on Happy Days (1980), and was an understudy for the leading role in the Broadway play Children of a Lesser God. Bove continues to this day to be a positive influence in the deaf community, and has been very active in creating opportunities for other deaf actors. She and her husband, who is also deaf, founded the DeafWest Theater in 1991. It is a theater for the Deaf, located in Los Angelos.

Bove is a true inspiration to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community. She teaches others that it does not matter whether one can hear or not, it is their ability to work hard and have passion that will bring them great success. She continues to promote deaf and hard of hearing awareness, especially in the theatre business. Her career has been great in introducing Deaf Culture into the homes of families across the country.





Marlee Matlin

Meet Marlee Matlin

Forty-eight year old Marlee Matlin from Morton Grove, Illinois, has become one of the most successful deaf actresses in the US.

Declared deaf at 18 months old with a malformed cochlea, Matlin lost all hearing in her right ear, and 80 percent in her left year. Regardless of her disability, she made a name for herself as an actress, author, and role model for many.

Aside from her four Emmy nominations and Golden Globe award, Matlin is the first deaf actress to win an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Children of a Lesser God.

She has also appeared in countless popular TV shows, including Sesame Street singing "Just the Way You Are" with Billy Joel. She had a role in Blue's Clues, E.R., Desperate Housewives, CSI: NY, The West Wing, and many more. Additionally, she received Primetime Emmy nominations for her roles in Seinfeld, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and The Practice.

Matlin was also a finalist on The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC to win money for her charity The Starkey Hearing Foundation. She received second place. Matlin furthered her career by performing the "Star Spangled Banner" in American Sign Language at Superbowl XVI. She later was a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2008. She made it to five rounds before losing in the sixth round. In 2009, Matlin made history and had a star placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Not only was Matlin a successful actress, but she is also a published author. She published her first novel Deaf Child Crossing in 2002, and published a sequel Nobody's Perfect shortly after, which was performed onstage in 2007.

While her career been on the rise for the past decade, she has also made time for an abundance of service work. She is well known for her membership in the National Association of the Deaf, as well as being an active member in the Easter Seals community, the Children Affected by AIDS foundation, and was appointed to the Corporation for National Service by President Clinton in 1994.

An inspiration to all, Marlee Matlin has become a successful deaf actress and author. She has four children with husband Kevin Grandalski, and still continues to act today. You can now watch Matlin on the popular ABC Family original TV show Switched at Birth.





Sean Berdy

Meet Sean Berdy!

Sean has made a name for himself as an actor with Switched at Birth where he plays a deaf musician named Emmett.

Born deaf, Sean was also raised in a deaf family. However, the Berdy's never let that get in the way. Sean described his childhood as loud, silly, and incredibly fun and exciting. Everyone was always singing and dancing, especially Sean, who insisted he put on frequent shows for his family.

Before his big break on Switched at Birth, you may recognize him as Sammy from The Sandlot 2. The adorable, freckled, "Fingers" was the mischievous teammate who was overly eager to lock lips with an older woman at a carnival kissing booth. Since then, Berdy has appeared in various commercials and movies, and successfully perfected his magic and music skills. He and his brother competed and won the 2006 World Deaf Magicians Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. He's toured the country with multiple music groups, and he performed and signed Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" that was a hit among the deaf community. And if that was not impressive enough, after competing against ten deaf schools, in 2010 he was named Mr. Teen Deaf America by Gallaudet University.

Currently he can be seen playing the drummer in Switched at Birth's Guitar Face. Being an incredibly talented musician is perhaps the only thing Berdy shares with his character Emmett who is portrayed as the "deaf James Dean." Sean described Emmett as quiet, serious, with a point of view that is sarcastic, but immediately balanced by a sweet side. Most importantly, Emmett is extremely perceptive being both in touch with the deaf and hearing world, although he tends to think he knows everything about both worlds.

Sean is very proud to be on a show that portrays the deaf community so vividly and realistically (WeLoveSoaps). You can catch the show every Monday on ABC Family at 9 p.m.

Read the interview here.





Katie Leclerc

Meet Katie Leclerc!

The star of ABC Family's Switched at Birth is a true inspiration.

Katie began acting in grade school after winning the lead role in a production of "Annie." Upon moving to San Diego in her teens, she decided to seriously pursue acting as a career. Since then she has been in a slew of television shows including the hit series Veronica Mars.

It was during a filming sequence where she had to pretend to get her hearing tested that Katie discovered she had a very significant hearing loss. Doctor's then diagnosed her with Meniere's disease, an inner ear disorder that causes severe dizziness, and sporadic hearing loss accompanied by a roaring sound in the ear known as tinnitus.

Katie explained in an interview with Ology that she can sometimes hear fine, and other times she can't hear anything at all. Meniere's is genetic and both her father and sister have it. Because of the premature knowledge of the disease in the family, Katie was already fluent in ASL.

Katie revealed that the most difficult part of the disease is the erratic spells of vertigo. They can occur on set in the middle of a scene, but Katie declares she is lucky to work with an incredibly caring and understanding group of people who have her best needs first.

Despite the fact that Meniere's gets significantly worse over time, Katie is forever optimistic and plans to continue to act.

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