Library Blog

Trailblazers in the Deaf Community: Famous Men

Do you want to learn something new about some famous people? Five famous deaf men from 1700 to 2020 have become trailblazers for their time. Learn about each of these fantastic men and what they have done to change history. Check out these biographies about these famous deaf men! 

Granville Seymour Redmond (March 9, 1871 – May 24, 1935) 

Granville Redmond was a one of the most successful California Impressionists in the 1900’s.  He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up in San Jose, California. Age the age of 3, Granville became sick with scarlet fever left him deaf in both ears. He went to the California School for the Deaf from 1879 to 1890. His love for art came from his teacher Ophilus D’EstellaHe continued his education in Paris, France at a school named Academie Julian. His painting called Matin d’hiver was one of his first famous painting in Paris. Granville married Carrie Ann Jean and settled in Los Angeles, California. Granville was inspired by the California landscape and has an understanding of color and depth in his art. His artwork is in many galleries in California. 

To learn more about Granville Seymour Redmond visit Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Art in Society.com, and Grandville Redmond Gallery.com. 

Andrew Jackson Foster II (June 27, 1925 – December 3, 1987) 

Andrew Foster was a famous educator for the deaf in America and in Africa. Andrew is considered a foreign missionary worker that has created and founded 31 schools for the deaf in Africa in the span of thirty years. Andrew grew up in Ensley, Alabama and was the oldest of four children. His father, Wiley Foster, was a World War I veteran and his mother was a home maker.  

At age 11, Andrew and his younger brother contracted spinal meningitis which left him permanently deaf in 1936. He finished his eighth-grade year at the Alabama School for the Colored Deaf and then moved to Detroit with his aunt to pursue his high school diploma. He graduated with honors in accounting and business administration from the Detroit Institute of Commerce in 1950. He received a full scholarship in 1950 from Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Education. He was considered the first African American to do this in college. 

In 1956, he graduated with a Master’s degree from Michigan State Normal College in Deaf Education. In that same year, he founded the Christian Mission for Deaf Africans. In 1961, he married a deaf woman named Bertha Zither and had four boys and one girl. He founded 31 schools for the deaf in Africa over the span of three decades. He won many awards and in 1970 earned his doctorate from Gallaudet. He died in a plane crash in 1987 traveling from Rwanda to Kenya. Gallaudet dedicated its auditorium in his honor along with a scholarship in his name. 

To learn more about Andrew Foster visit Gallaudet.edu and Black Past.org. 

Lou Ferrigno (November 9, 1951– ) 

Lou Ferrigno was born in Brooklyn, New York to his parents Matty and Victoria FerrignoMatty was a police lieutenant. When he was three, he told that he could not hear due to recurring ear infections as a boy. When he was 13, he started lifting weight and body building. He lifted weights because he wanted to get strong and did not like to be bullied because of his disability. He wanted to prove to others that he could do anything. He won Teenage Mr. America and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and was trained in metal working. 

Over the years he continued to compete in body building competitions and eventually led to winning Mr. America and a two-time winner of Mr. Universe. He competed against Arnold Schwarzeneggar in the Mr. Olympia competition, but lost. This competition in turn lead to a book being written about the two called “Pumping Iron” and he became famous from this novel. He won the title role of the hit television series called “The Incredible Hulk” as the Hulk. This show was famous in the 1980s and he continued to act from the 1990-2012. Besides being a famous actor and body builder, he has three children. 

To learn more about Lou Ferrigno visit Premiere Speakers.com and The Famous People.com. 

Laurent Clerc (December 26, 1782 – July 18, 1869) 

Laurent Clerc was born in Lyons, France and at the age of one, fell into a fire and became deaf and could not smell from the incident. At age twelve, Laurent went to the Royal Institute of the Deaf in Paris, France. He graduated and asked if he could stay at the school and teach students. The school promoted him after time and he was able to teach other students.  

Thomas Gallaudet came to France looking to learn Sign Language and Laurent Clerc was that person that taught him. Gallaudet learned Sign Language from Laurent at the Royal Institute for the Deaf and they both worked well together. Gallaudet asked Clerc to come to the United States for a short time. Clerc agreed and they both to a boat to America. On that trip to America, Laurent learned English and Gallaudet learned Sign Language.  

On April 15, 1817, the men started a school called the Connecticut Asylum at Hartford for the Institute of Deaf and Dumb Persons. They rented the rooms and had seven students. Clerc eventually went before Congress and President Monroe and used Sign Language. President Monroe became interested in Sign.  

In 1819, Laurent married Eliza Crocker Boardman and had six children. He was a supporter of sign language and was an advocate of people’s rights in America. It is said that fifty eight percent of American Sign Language comes from his teachings. He died at age 83. 

To learn more about Laurent Clerc visit Gallaudet.edu and Start ASL.com. 

Nyle DiMarco (May 8, 1989– ) 

Nyle DiMarco is a famous deaf activist, model and actor. He was born in Queens, New York and has a twin brother. Nyle was born deaf to a multigenerational deaf family and his full name is Nyle Thompson. He went to the Maryland School for the Deaf and graduated in mathematics from Gallaudet University in 2013. Nyle uses American Sign Language as his primary form of communication. Nyle can also lip read and uses nonverbal communication.  

In 2015, Nyle was on the hit television series, America’s Next Top Model and won at the age of 25. He was the first deaf contestant on the show. On March 8, 2016 he appeared on the hit show Dancing with the Stars and won that competition. He was also the first deaf winner of that competition and only the second deaf person to compete on the show. 

Nyle feels that deaf roles should be played by deaf actors. He is currently the Producer for Broadway’s Children of a Lesser God in New York City. He is also an activist and founded the Nyle DiMarco Foundation and is a spokesman for Language Equality and Acquistion for Deaf Kids. 

To learn more about Nyle DiMarco visit Nyle DiMarco.com, Dancing with the Stars at ABC.com, and Broadway World.com.