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Contributions of the Deaf Community

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Joana Devesa

on 18 May 2014

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Transcript of Contributions of the Deaf Community

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Beethoven was born into a musical family in Bonn, Germany. His grandfather, Lodewijk van Beethoven, originally from Mechelen, Belgium, was a bass singer and later a music director at the court of the Elector of Cologne and his father, Johan van Beethoven, worked as a tenor in the same musical establishment.

His musical talent was discovered at a very young age. In 1778, being only 7 years old, he gave his first public piano performance; in 1782, before the age of 12, Beethoven published his first work, 9 Variations in a march by Dressler; in 1784, being 14, he was appointed organist of the court of Maximillian Franz, the Elector of Cologne. In 1792, he moved to Vienna, Austria, the capital city in terms of culture and music, and soon he established himself as one of the greatest pianists and composers of his time.

In 1796, at the age of 28, Beethoven started to lose his hearing, and by 1814 he was completely deaf. Although he eventually stopped performing publicly, in 1811, he never stopped composing, and some of his most important works were composed during the last 10 years of his life, such as the famous 9th Symphony (1817-1824).
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven
Marlee Matlin was born in Illinois, USA, in 1965. When she was 18 months old, an illness permanently destroyed all hearing in her right ear and 80% of the hearing in her left ear. Her deafness, however, never held her back. As a child, Matlin discovered acting through a program at the Center on Deafness that brought deaf and hearing kids together. She landed her first leading role as Dorothy in a production of The Wizard of Oz with a children's theater company in Chicago.
Matlin worked in the Chicago theater scene for several years before getting her big break as the lead in a production of Children of a Lesser God in Chicago. When the play was adapted for the big screen, Matlin received a chance to reprise her stage role. She starred as Sarah, a young deaf woman, who becomes involved with a speech teacher (played by William Hurt) at a school for the deaf. She rejects learning to lip-read and to talk, choosing communicate through sign language alone.
Although this was her film debut, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. You can see her receiving her award here:

She went on to star in a number of other film and television movies. Besides acting, Matlin is also a writer and a producer.
Acting: Marlee Matlin
Deaf not Dumb video Campaign from Deaffinity, a British organization that works with the Deaf.
Deaf, not Dumb!
Deaf and hard of hearing people have repeatedly proved that they have much to contribute to the society at large.

Let us present you with some good examples!
Contributions of the Deaf Community
Waiting for the World to Change
Victims of Discrimination
Throughout the history of mankind, deaf people have been subject of discrimination.

Incapable of hearing, most deaf people were also incapable of successfully communicate with others, and an inability to speak was seen as the same as an inability to reason, and a sign of stupidity and dumbness.

As such, deaf people were denied certain rights such as access to education, representation under the law, etc.
The belief that hearing and speech are connected to intelligence was, obviously, incorrect, ill-informed, and false, but still it remained unchallenged for centuries.

Still nowadays, Deaf people fight hard to overcome these prejudices and to be fully integrated in the broader society, as it can be seen in the following videos:
Hearing and speech are NOT connected to intelligence!
Want to find out more about Thomas Edison's inventions? We suggest you to:
Thomas Edison (1847- 1931) is regarded as one of history's most influential inventors, whose contributions to the modern era transformed the lives of people all over the world. Edison is best known for having invented the electric light bulb, the phonograph, and the first motion-picture camera, but, in total, Edison owned 1,093 patents of inventions.

What many people are not aware of, is that Edison had had hearing problems from childhood on, having become technically deaf in his early teens. This caused him problems when he entered school, since it made it difficult for him to pay attention. His teacher considered him mentally challenged, and told his parents that he had something wrong with his brain and would never be able to learn. After only three months, Edison droped school and was homeschooled by his mother. His teacher was, obviously, wrong; Edison was a smart, curious child and showed a appetite for knowledge, reading books on a wide range of subjects. In this wide-open curriculum, Edison developed a process for self-education and learning independently that would serve him throughout his life.
Science and Technology: Thomas Edison
You can find about more about the challenges of being a deaf professional swimmer here:
Terence Mike Parkin was born deaf in 1980 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. At the age of 12 he discovered swimming, using sign language to communicate with his swimming coach. He was disadvantaged in competition, where races would be started by a gunshot (and signalled to him by his coach). Fortunately, top flight competition soon provided a visual indicator together with an auditory indicator.

Parkin competed in his first Olympic games in 2000, at the age of 20. Following the 200 metres breaststroke, unable to hear stadium commentators announcing the results, Parkin looked to the scoreboard, where he saw a “2” next to his name and initially assumed that this alluded to his lane number. Only later did he realise that it represented his position in the race, an Olympic silver medal against able-bodied competitors.

One year later, at the Deaflympics (an Olympic Games equivalent competition for deaf athletes), held in Rome, Italy, Parkin claimed five titles – the 100 and 200 metres freestyle, the 100 and 200 metres breaststroke, and the 400 metres individual medley. That, however was merely a precursor to his astounding collection of results the the 2005 Deaflympics in Melbourne, Australia, where he won an incredible 12 gold medals and one silver.
Parkin stated that his main priority was to put deaf athletes in the spotlight, and he has certainly done so. His abilities and achievements have been recognised by sponsors, fellow athletes and commentators.
Sports: Terence Parkin
Want to learn more about Beethoven? We suggest you to:
Listen to Some of his music

Explore the Beethoven-Haus Bonn Museum Website:

Watch the movie Eroica

- Read about his most famous ones: http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bledison.htm

- Watch a short video about the inventions that didn't work: http://www.biography.com/people/thomas-edison-9284349#awesm=~oDjy6RWw7VwjWf

Consult this list and discover the accomplishments of other deaf and hard of hearing people:

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