9 Times Deaf People Dominated 2019


The 2010’s have been a revolutionary decade that saw the advancement of Deaf education, employment and entertainment.

From the premiere of the TV show Switched at Birth to Nyle DiMarco’s historic America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars wins, Deaf people, and by default American Sign Language, have become increasingly mainstream. 2019 is a defining year for Deaf progress.

At the close of this transformative decade, Deaf people have captured more of the national spotlight than ever before. Some of our favorite Deaf moments of the year are:

Photo of e-sports FaZe Clan team

Photo credit: cnn.com

Deaf gamer makes eSport Herstory

13-year old “Pro Deaf Gamer Girl,” Soleil Wheeler made history as the first Deaf and female teammate of one of the most prestigious e-sports leagues, FaZe Clan. Known by her online persona, Ewok, played in the Fortnite World Cup in July and was one of the few female gamers to play alongside gamer legend, Ninja. She’s young, she’s driven and infinitely cool. “I wanted to really jump into that and make history,” Wheeler told CNN, “It’s a great opportunity to help inspire other girls… they can join any organization. They can play any game.” Follow her at Mixer.com.

Hawaii mandates open captions for all movie theaters

Hawaii has long been hailed as a premiere travel destination, famous for its pristine beaches and aloha spirit. This year, the state legislature passed a bill that will delight deaf Hawaiian movie-lovers. H.B. 1009 mandates that theaters must show at least 2 open captioned screenings per week, forever. Goodbye, captioning glasses, the 2010’s would not have been the same without you.

The time when people with disabilities bonded over our collective confusion of T.N.D.P.S

Or things-non-disabled-people-say. In 2019, people with disabilities took to Twitter to rant about how “Ableds are weird,” through some hilarious, yet unfortunate, tweets. The campaign aims to spark a dialogue about ableism in raw and relatable ways. Here are some of our favorites:

Disabled voters matter in 2019

Did you know that Mayor Pete uses ASL, #YangGang has a son with special needs, Warren taught special ed, and Bernie believes in free hearing aids? Nearly 1 in 5 Americans live with some form of disability, that’s 20% of the population, and at least 12% are eligible voters. For what seems like the first time in forever, politicians are showing some love to deaf communities all across America, recognizing an important-albeit-marginalized voting bloc. We’re not going to lie, its nice to know that decision makers are [literally] speaking our language. We’re just glad that they’re paying attention to the issues our communities care about. #CriptheVote

Pete Buttegieg holding up the Y hand shape

Photo credit: newsweek.com

Children of Deaf Adults Book Cover

Photo credit: facebook.com

As if we really needed a reminder to hug our deaf parents… (we did)

Children of Deaf Adults (CODAs) go through very unique childhoods, whether they are hearing or deaf. Navigating internal and external social, economic, cultural, and linguistic challenges are just par to the course. This year, a deaf mother was reunited with her hearing son after 46 years and CODAs in Korea wrote a critically-acclaimed book about growing up with deaf parents. Be still our hearts! The book, entitled: “CODA” has not yet been released in English, but keep an eye out in 2020. Deaf moms and dads, we see you.

DC or Marvel? Who cares? We stan all our deaf superheroes!

May we never forget that in 2019 the entertainment deities that be blessed us with not one, but two deaf superheroes on the big screen. Deaf and queer artist Chella Man was cast in the second season of DC’s Titans, playing the role of Jericho, the deaf-mute son of a supervillain with the power to possess other people’s bodies through eye contact. Chella is considered a superhero off-screen as much as he is onscreen for using his platform to share art and educate others about the trans and deaf communities. For fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you will be glad to know that they announced that Lauren Ridloff – a la Walking Dead – has been cast as the first ever deaf superhero to star in one of their major motion pictures. Mark your calendars – Eternals premieres November 20, 2020.

Collage of Deaf Superheroes

Photo credit: thewrap.com and comicbook.com

Photo of Darren Toh

Photo credit: bbc.com

A 12-year-old in England has a higher IQ than Einstein and Stephen Hawking… Oh and by the way, he’s deaf.

Darren Toh was inducted into Mensa after scoring a 162 on his IQ test. He insists that he’s not a genius, but acknowledges that he’s smart. If anything, 2019 taught us that you don’t have to be a genius to dominate in academics. This year, Dr. Alesia Allen became the first black, deaf woman to get a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Gallaudet University and PhD. Candidate Larwan Berke from RIT was awarded a $25,000 research grant from Microsoft. #2020goals #newyearnewme #educationfirst

This was the year of the “Feeling chill, might watch deaf actors on Nexflix later…idk.” moments

What do A Silent Voice, Tales of the City, Black Summer, The Society, Day Break and The Dragon Prince have in common? They’re all on Nexflix and they all feature deaf characters. The entertainment industry has gotten flack for casting hearing actors in deaf roles, which sparked the movement where deaf advocates and allies fight for equal opportunities and representation in a variety of roles that elevate them beyond token disabled characters. We asked, Netflix answered. Catch Sandy Mae Frank, Sean Berdy and deaf, Syrian refugee Mustafa Alabssi on a screen near you!

Netflix logo with collage of shows featuring Deaf talent

All we want for Christmas is Nyle DiMarco

This holiday season, Nyle DiMarco gave us the gift that keeps giving; a signing challenge endorsed by the Queen of Christmas herself, Ms. Mariah Carey. People all across the world filmed themselves signing “All I want for Christmas is you,” and sent them to Nyle as part a challenge of the same name. Mariah responded saying, ” I love it! ❤️” The Queen has spoken and you can take that to the ASL bank!

There were so many great moments in 2019 and we only shared a few of them.  What has been some of your favorite moments this year?

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