A Model’s Dream to Break Down Barriers

Creating equal opportunity for the deaf voice around the globe

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Nyle Di Marco,         
Credit: William Callan
Nyle Di Marco, Credit: William Callan

The only deaf contest to win America’s Next Top Model & the season 22 winner of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, Nyle Di Marco sat down for a brief chat about his amazing work that is gaining great momentum on behalf of the deaf community around the globe.  Aside from his entertainment epithets & accolades as a model & an actor, he is also an activist & the founder of the Nyle Di Marco foundation working to empower the deaf voice.

He recently partnered with Lionsgate & Actiview to launch an American Sign Language interpretation of the film Wonder. The first time viewers can see an ASL translation of a U.S. live action film. This is a game changer in terms of accessibility within the TV & film industry.  

He has also taken an active role with the UN to support the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and spoke at the Mashable social good summit and several other events during the UN general assembly week last year. 

Why do you think it’s so important to be represented?

Being here at this social good summit and with a platform like the UN people take notice. There is 466 million in the deaf community and if we are excluding them how can we possibly achieve SDGs for 2030 so it is important to be represented and be a voice for them. As a member of that community, I am well aware of the deficiencies in that community and through my experience knows what needs to be done in order to achieve those goals. I think in order to achieve the greater goal we must be representative of all people.

What are some special projects that you are currently working on?

My focus especially is on creating opportunities for education within the deaf community, especially for young kids.  I do have work that I do through my own Nyle Di Marco Foundation. But we are currently working with another deaf organization and collaborated on legislation for a state bill that will provide language equality for kids ages through 0-5. Currently the bill has been passed in at least in 5 states and we are hoping to expand that to more states.

According to research, this is a critical age for young children which is crucial for their language development. These Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K) bills establishes benchmarks to help keep deaf children on track with language acquisition. The Nyle Di Marco foundation also sponsored a summit on behalf of LEAD-K last year to educate people more on the bill.

More information on the state bill can be found here: http://www.lead-k.org/leadkfaq/

Any words of wisdom for our readers?

I think the motto that I try to live by is that life is short, and rather than being discouraged, turn your deficit into an asset.

Glass half full & more power to you awesome human!

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