If anyone has been reading Beginnings SC’s Facebook feed, you know I have been enthralled with Dancing with the Stars lately, because of one reason–Nyle DiMarco. The only time I ever watched America’s Next Top Model was the finale, just to see who this Nyle guy was. I’ve never watched DWTS, either, until half way through this season. Not only did I see some incredible dancing, but I got to see how a man without the typical (auditory) access to the the world was able to beat an entire group of Hollywood stars by dancing well.
I write this post not to talk about another Deaf role model (but gosh! he is one) but to talk about HOW he won. My title is a little misleading, but Nyle’s secret for success is because of one thing–language. It doesn’t really matter that he uses ASL. He happens to be the 4th generation of a Deaf family, but he could use hearing technology and communicate orally. What was important was Nyle had a huge “village” of people around him from the day he was born that all were able to bombard him with language. He grew up with deep connections with his family members and was able to develop the self-confidence he needed to be able to DANCE WHILE BLINDFOLDED, just because he wanted to challenge himself. Being the winner of both ANTM and DWTS is not the mountain-top of success that all deaf and hard of hearing children should attain, but because he had language, it didn’t matter what he wanted to do. His twin brother is a DJ–like, with music. To recap, two Deaf kids with a large Deaf family are succeeding with careers related to music. Why? Because they can, and no one’s ever told them not to.
I read a comment on Twitter last night after Nyle and Peta were announced the winners; basically it said that Nyle’s victory made every Deaf person in America feel on top of the world. Why? Because if Nyle can do it, so can every other person, if they want to. So, find every DWTS video clip you can find and watch it with your children or students and tell them there are no limits. And keep communicating because there are no limits.