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Deaf Culture Totally Had A Moment: 2017 Edition

When Deaf culture influences pop culture, everybody wins! Here are just a few of the many noteworthy Deaf moments that happened in 2017. Please feel free to add to the discussion and leave your personal favorites in the comments!

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12. NASA reveals how Deaf people helped with anti-gravity exploration during the space race


In the late 1950s, NASA recruited 11 men from Gallaudet University who were deaf to participate in a decade long research program. The researchers wanted to understand how the body’s sensory systems work when the usual gravitational cues from the inner ear aren't available. "Through their endurance and dedication, the work of the Gallaudet Eleven made substantial contributions to the understanding of motion sickness and adaptation to spaceflight."

11. Master of None praised for approaching deaf characters effectively in a mainstream program

Cinematography techniques were used to emphasize experience of being a deaf person, while the storyline and dialogue were used to highlight the simultaneous experience of being just an everyday human in New York.


• The case of Daniel Harris, who was shot by North Carolina state trooper following a traffic infraction, was dropped in January 2017 with no charges to the officer.

• In September 2017, Magdiel Gonzalez was shot and killed by police right outside of his home in Oklahoma City while neighbors shouted to the police that he could not hear them. In 2014 Pearl Pearson (then 64 years old) was beaten by Oklahome State troopers on the side of the road because he did not comply with orders he could not hear. Just this year, the case against Pearson was dismissed because the court did not want to pay the cost of interpreters.

8. Crisis interpreter + text 911 fail exposes major gaps in emergency management

Time and again law enforcement and city officials overlook the importance of providing services for the deaf when delivering critical information, for example during Hurricane Irma in Florida or the California wildfires. Social media has been helpful with raising awareness about the prevalence of these unfortunate negligent practices.

5. Deaf-owned and operated Mozzeria Wood fired pizza franchise set to expand nationwide

Kim+phil Photography

The Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana verified pizzeria is set to expand with a an investment from Communication Services for the Deaf, offering opportunities for deaf employment and connection between the deaf and hearing communities.

4. #DeafTalent Moments

• Singer Mandy Harvey gains fame as an America’s Got Talent contestant

• Actor Kriston Pumphrey signs the National Anthem at the Superbowl

• “The Chances,” a drama/comedy created by and featuring deaf performers is signed to Sundance Now

• Short film NOise goes viral on Vimeo

• Marlee Matlin announced to be regular character on Quantico season 3

Don’t Shoot the Messenger, a YouTube series about the awkward area between deaf and hearing culture, wraps up Season 1.

• Actor and model Nyle Dimarco is featured in GQ magazine
for his career success and activist work.

3. #WhyISign

The ongoing #WhyISign campaign has been raising awareness on a community level about the many reasons people use sign language. In March 2017 they held a successful 48 hour campaign to solicit videos, and they continue to post new videos on a regular basis!

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