Deaf notables, leaders, movers and shakers, and their hearing allies of the 20th century make a difference of the people's lives or make great contributions to the Deaf community and society. This is not an exhaustive list. Only a few of so many.
Linda Bove (1945-present) is a deaf American actress who played the part on the children's television program, "Sesame Street" from 1971 to 2003.
Leroy Colombo (1905-1974), a Deaf lifeguard, is credited with saving 907 lives, a record mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Andrew Jackson Foster (1925-1987) was the first Deaf African American to earn a bachelor's degree from Gallaudet College in 1954. He helped found a number of schools for the deaf in Africa.
Phyllis Frelich (1944-2014): a deaf American actress; a contemporary of American actress Linda Bove.
I. King Jordan (1943-present) was appointed the eighth president and first deaf president of Gallaudet University from 1988 to 2006.
Eugene Hairston (1929-2014) was the first deaf African American boxer, known as "Silent Hairston." He became pro and fought top names. "Eugene’s deafness led to the introduction of lights on ring posts, which flashed when the bell had rung to end the round. These lights would be used for all boxers' fights as an aid to fighters knowing when a round had ended." Ref
Dr. Paddy Ladd (1952-present) is a British Deaf scholar, author, activist and researcher of Deaf culture. The term "Deafhood" is well-known coinage of his.
Ella Mae Lentz (1954-present) is an Deaf American advocate, poet, and teacher. She is a co-author of the "Signing Naturally" textbook.
Charmaine Letourneau (educator and advocate of Edmonton, Alberta) is the first Deaf Canadian to receive the Order of Canada in 2001 in recognition of her work in Deaf education and community.
Gary Malkowski (1958-present), a former Canadian provincial politician and world's first Deaf parliamentarian. He represented the riding of York East in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1990 to 1995, as a member of the Ontario New Democratic Party.
Dorothy Miles (1931-1993) was one of the pioneers in ASL/BSL poetry as well as she was a poet in English.
Forrest C. Nickerson (1929-1988) was the founder of Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf and is considered the "Father of Deaf Culture" in Canada along with Angela Stratiy, the "Mother of Deaf Culture" in Canada.
David Peikoff (1900-1995) is a revered Deaf leader and Canadian activist who made many significant contributions to the Deaf community.
Eugene Rubens-Alcais (1884-1963), founder and first CISS/ICSD president (1924-1953); a pioneer in the Deaf sports movement.
Marie Jean Philip (1953-1997), a Deaf American leader and teacher, advocated for the right to a natural sign language for Deaf children in education. She was a trailblazer for bilingualism in Deaf education.
Angela Stratiy (1947-present): Deaf comedian and performer, co-founder of Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf (with Forrest C. Nickerson).
Clayton Valli (1951-2003) was a notable Deaf linguist and pioneer of ASL poetry.
George Veditz (1861-1937) was the 7th president of National Association of the Deaf (NAD) in the United States. He spearheaded the "Preservation of Sign Language" project of the NAD.
Henry Vlug (1944-present), a Netherlands-born Deaf lawyer in British Columbia, Canada, has been appointed a Queen's Counsel (Q.C.) by the British Columbia Bar. He is possibly the first Deaf lawyer in Canada.
Harlan Lane (1936-2019), an American psychologist, founded the ASL program at Northeastern and wrote a number of books (When the Mind Hears) about deaf culture and history that Deaf community highly respected his work.
Princess Diana of Wales (1961-1997) became a patron of British Deaf Association (BDA) and learned BSL in 1983. She signed BSL to 800 delegates at a BDA conference in Brighton, East Sussex, in 1990.
William C. Stokoe, Jr. (1919-2000): an American linguist; Gallaudet University professor; the father of ASL lingustics.