Susan B. Anthony
International Week of the Deaf
Celebrated during the last full week of September, the International Week of the Deaf was established by the World Federation of the Deaf to help raise awareness and bring attention to current topics affecting the deaf community. Deaf women throughout history have been innovational in scientific, artistic, and political spheres.
Annie Jump Cannon
Annie Jump Cannon was an influential American astronomer, most notably recognized for her contribution to modern day stellar classification. Born in 1863 to state senator Wilson Lee Cannon and Mary Elizabeth Jump, Annie had a childhood interest in star gazing which was passed down from her mother. A high achiever in secondary school mathematics, Cannon attended Wellesley College. She suffered from Scarlet Fever during her years in college, and was left almost completely deaf after her recovery from the illness. She graduated with a degree in physics in 1984, but was uninterested in any jobs available to women at the time. She received a position as an assistant to her college astronomy professor and was able to take graduate classes simultaneously. Cannon developed interests in photography and spectroscopy during this time. She then became an assistant to Harvard College Observatory director Edward Pickering and helped create the Henry Draper Catalogue mapping 230,000 stars in the sky. While employed at Harvard, she earned 25 cents per hour, less than what the secretaries earned at the time. During her 40 year career, women began to gain credibility within the scientific community. Cannon was the first female to win the Henry Draper Medal from the National Academy of Sciences. She passed away in 1941 at the age of 78.
Marlee Matlin is a critically acclaimed and Award winning actress and activist. Born in 1965 in Morton Grove, Illinois, Matlin became deaf at 18 months after battling an illness known as Roseola Infantum. She graduate form Harper College and soon after took on several serious acting roles for well known theater companies. Her film debut at 21 years old in "Children of a Lesser God" which earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1986. Matlin appeared in "The West Wing" for seven years and has made countless TV appearances on shows including Law and Order: SVU, Family Guy, CSI, Desperate Housewives, and Nip/Tuck. She was nominated for Emmy Awards for her guest roles in Law and Order, Seinfeld, Picket Fences, and The Practice. In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed Matlin to the Corporation for National Service and she served as chairperson for National Volunteer Week. Matlin was instrumental in helping to get legislation passed through Congress in support of closed captioning and currently serves as a celebrity spokesperson for the American Red Cross. Marlee has written several children's books about tolerance and published her New York Times Bestselling autobiography, "Scream Later" in 2009. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and four children.
Michelle Banks is an award winning actress, writer, producer, director, and teacher. Michelle was born in 1968 in Washington D.C. and developed an interest in acting at a young age and performed in local theatrical productions through her childhood. She attended SUNY Purchase and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama Studies. Following graduation, she founded Onyx Theater Company in NYC, the only deaf theater for African Americans. Her work with Onyx earned her the Cultural Enrichment Award from Gallaudet University and the Distinguished Service Award from the New York Deaf Theater. Her diverse talents include choreography, public speaking, teaching, and directing. She created and stared in a one woman traveling show called "Reflections of a Deaf Black Woman" She has appeared in several films including Malcolm X and Compensation and has guest starred on numerous television shows like Soul Food, and Strong Medicine. She is an active member of the National Black Deaf Advocates. Banks currently resides in Los Angeles, California and travels to various schools and community centers to lead acting workshops for deaf children and adults.
Judith Ann Pachciarz
Judith Ann Pachciarz has made influential advancements in the field of medicine and has helped inspire deaf individuals to choose a career in medicine. She was born in 1941 in Danville, Illinois and became deaf as a result of suffering from encephalomeningitis at 2 years old. She attended primary school with hearing students but took lip reading classes to help her achieve success in school. As a young student, she was banned from taking chemistry because the teacher assumed her deafness would cause her to knock over dangerous lab chemicals and tools. Despite the discrimination she encountered, she remained motivated to study medicine after reading about Elizabeth Blackwell and Marie Curie. She obtained BS in Microbiology and Zoology from the University of Illinois. She later went on to receive a Master of Science and a PhD in Microbiology in 1971. In 1979, Pachciarz enrolled University of Louisville School of Medicine. In order to get through medical school, students from the bioengineering department modified an oscilloscope for her so that she could see heart and lung sounds instead of listening for them using a stethoscope. She was chief resident in pathology for 5 years following her graduation in 1983 and completed a residency in transfusion and blood banking. She is currently a practicing pathologist and Professor at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. She advises her students never to assume that a disabled person can't do what anyone else can do.
Claudia L. Gordon
Dr. Claudia L. Gordon, ESQ is the first African American, deaf, and female lawyer. She was born in Jamaica and became deaf at 8 years old. The discrimination she faced as a deaf child in Jamaica inspired her to seek social justice and equal opportunity for differently abled individuals. She became passionate about pursuing law as a means to achieving justice, so she moved to the United States where she attended the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York. After receiving a BA in Political Science from Howard University, Gordon was the first deaf student to graduate from American University Washington College of Law in 2000. Her specialization was in disability rights and policy. Gordon has been awarded many honors and fellowships throughout her legal career, enabling her to work for the National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center. She was able to provide free legal services for poor deaf individuals, particularly individuals from a racial and ethnic minority groups. Gordon became a consultant for the National Council on Disability. She then received the position of senior policy advisor for the Department of Homeland Security, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; When Hurricane Katrina hit, Gordon worked to ensure that the needs of disabled individuals were met during the disaster. She was awarded the Gold Medal Award and the 2005 Hurricane Response Award from the Secretary of Homeland Security for her efforts.