Marlee Matlin : An Enigma or Savvy Smart?


Yes, another Marlee Matlin post.

Since Marlee Matlin is becoming more visible in past two years, and currently, she is on the highest rating show, The Celebrity Apprentice. The controversy always follows Marlee. There is an heated debate of her choice of charity, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, as an organization who gives away free hearing aids to children and adults who needs them.

This foundation is a multi-million dollar business. Marlee is under the microscope by several people who has been dissecting her into mere pieces by questioning about her reasons to be a ‘spokesperson’ to this specific charity. That charity believes that they give the “gift of hearing” to people who cannot hear. That is against the cultural values in Deaf community who use American Sign Language.

Oh please. Many of ASL users do use hearing aids.


Marlee writes in her book, “I’ll Scream Later” describing how she felt when she is against the odds with the Deaf Community throughout her career.

I went from being the most-well known Deaf person in the world to the most hated Deaf person in the world, in one night. Aparrently when it came to the Deaf community, I had no individual rights. And that I would not accept.”

She tweeted today speaking up against few people who kept asking her about her choice of charity, and Marlee tweeted,

“@Starkeyhearing does not deny ASL or deaf culture; they provide hearing aids. BTW, lots of ASL users wear hearing aids.”

“And just as an FYI @starkeyhearing tests hearing when parents can’t afford tests for kids and gives out FREE hearing aids.”

“I sign, I support deaf culture. And I support ALL CHOICES of communication, all kinds of people. If you don’t like my choices, well…”

In two days on April 1, 2011, an incoming new CEO of National Association of the Deaf, Howard A. Rosenblum will start his first day on the job. Howard and Marlee were classmates when they were in elementary school at suburban Chicago.

For the first time, Marlee Matlin will appear at National Association of the Deaf’s Spring Benefit Gala in May 14, 2011 at Berkeley, California and she will make a formal introduction of Howard Rosenblum before the audience of NAD supporters.

That means SOMETHING!

I am from southeast part of U.S.A., and I am going to fly over there to witness this important event. Marlee said that she is a proud member of NAD, and she acts as a celebrity spokesperson for NAD to speak a testimony before the FCC to help passing the recent law, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.

NAD is transforming right now, and we have MANY strong and most prominent supporters behind this organization. Marlee Matlin is one of many.

Marlee is not an engima, she is being savvy smart. Regardless how you may think of her and her choices she made. It is not my business to criticize her choices, and I am in a full support in what she is doing right now. She does not burn bridges, she EDUCATES many people more than you ever realize.

If you have a twitter account, go and check @MarleeMatlin, and she has 91,772 followers. She has a clout. People started taking ASL classes, parents decided to sign to their young Deaf children, and celebrities complimenting her.

For whom who dissects her into mere pieces, I respect your opinion but I don’t like how you overstep her boundaries by criticizing her choices. I know that many of us do support her no matter what, and I am the one of these people.

Who is flying and attend the NAD’s Spring Benefit Gala to give Marlee Matlin and Howard Rosenblum a warm welcome to our community? The more, the merrier!

See you there!

Amy Cohen Efron

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19 comments on “Marlee Matlin : An Enigma or Savvy Smart?

I wear hearing aids and I am fluent in ASL. I would love to get free hearing aids!! I don’t know why it’s such a big thing. As they say, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. I like to say if you have residual hearing, make use of it!!

Be interesting to see the reception she gets from the Bay Area Folks. I trust you’ll keep us posted? 😉

Yeah. There’s no question that Marlee Matlin does what’s the best for herself. :p

This has been a very instructive blog. As always, I enjoy reading your post, especially on Marlee Matlin. You have provided very convincing arguments why there’s nothing wrong with Marlee throwing her support behind the Starkey Foundation. After all, there are plenty of people everywhere who can’t afford hearing aids and really need them. So, I agree, it’s a great cause! And, by the way, I won’t be attending the Gala, but I hope you do keep us informed. Have fun!

I am fluent in ASL and wear a hearing aid, too. I would love to go to the National Association of the Deaf’s Spring Benefit Gala.

You go, Amy. Thanks for this post!

[…] of diversity, Marlee Matlin made absolutely clear on diversity and choices in her recent tweet. @Starkeyhearing does not deny ASL or deaf culture; […]

I saw Marlee Matlin on the roast of Donald Trump. What really is troubling is that she knows full-well how much the hearing world looks to her about education and she isn’t careful. She referred to her interpreter on national television as a “signer” (it wasn’t an interpreting error – it’s exactly what she signed). The ironic part? He was voicing at the time.

She’s right, she has individual rights – but when she’s representing a whole group of people she has the responsibility to notify the public when she’s behaving as an individual and her behavior at the time isn’t representing the whole.

I think you’ve missed the point of some people’s outrage at Marlee choosing to support an organization that already is so wealthy it doesn’t really need more support. In fact, Starkey founder Austin has been quoted in the newspaper as saying that we need hearing to live. This is so wrong. It’s not about the “hearing aid” thing – it’s about Austin’s comments and his belief that hearing is something we cannot live without.

Why couldn’t Marlee support an organization like NAD? It doesn’t matter that she supports NAD; that’s not the issue. She chose to publicize an already well-established organization like Starkey instead of publicizing a long-time organization (NAD) that would benefit enormously from the publicity.

Marlee wears a Starkey hearing. Again, she feels that starkey is something worth throwing her support on their mission to give out free hearing aid. Let’s not grumble and be sourpusses.

“Why couldn’t Marlee support an organization like NAD? It doesn’t matter that she supports NAD; that’s not the issue. She chose to publicize an already well-established organization like Starkey instead of publicizing a long-time organization (NAD) that would benefit enormously from the publicity.”

Someone obviously didn’t read the article. Then again, it doesn’t matter; that’s not the issue.

I believe that Starkey got Marlee on the show, and in return got Starkey more money for their non-profit. Bill Austin fits hearing aids for many famous and wealthy people, many who you wouldn’t know actually wear hearing aids. They’re a powerful organization with a lot of connections….. I bet even Donald Trump has a Starkey Hearing Aid. I agree it would have been nice to see Marlee support NAD, but she wanted to support an organization that was doing things on an international level. In the end, you cannot please everyone…. but she still has my respect, and I hope she goes far on Celebrity Apprentice.

I love MM! I met her at a party in Washington D.C. in the late 80’s after winning the Academy Award. There among her peers, she was kind and humble. I applaud her for keeping herself in the spotlight undaunted by the naysayers. When diversity within a community is embraced… the community grows!

thanks Amy for this good column – informed choices create the best possible future for all,
Lauren for the CCAC – volunteer advocates

I cringed when I read that Marlee chose an organization that is not needy instead of a more needy one. She has many pluses on her side for Deaf people, but this choice of charity is one of her – thank God – few black marks. She needs to proclaim in her next PR event that to be deaf is OK and good for mankind and does not diminish one’s quality of life.


April 5, 2011

Marlee Matlin made a wise choice for her charity. There are many families that cannot afford hearing aids for their young deaf children. Some deaf responders feel Marlee Matlin should have chosen The National Association of the Deaf instead of giving money to The Starkey Foundation. I beg to differ. What has the NAD done for charity?

April 5, 2011

I believe Marlee Matlin made the right choice for her charity. Many families with small deaf children cannot afford hearing aids for them. The Starkey Hearing Foundation is the organization to help such families. Some responders feel that Marlee Matlin should have chosen the National Association of the Deaf instead of The Starkey Hearing Foundation. What has the NAD done for charity?

Irene Tunanidas, wrote, “What has the NAD done for charity?”
This is not thought out well and completely unlogical. It shows how much audism has crept inside of us
NAD is not in the position to give something to charity. It itself needs a lot of charity! What would we as members of NAD say, if NAD gives $$ something that we regard as not necessary for our life, such as hearing aids. We have been doing OK, and often better without hearing aids.

In my international experience, I know for sure, projects to support hearing aids or cochlear implants gets donations much easier and faster than any of our projects. Audismus is unfortunately too pervasive out there and gets charity dollars, while we struggle with lot of our volunteer time to fund for organize Deaflympics, Deaf Theatre and ASL films and educational programs for parents to learn sign language, to name only a few.

I wonder, if there is a secret pact between Marlee Matlin and Starkey Foundation, dit for dat of some kind. Does Efrom know something, to say that Matlin was politically savvy?

It is important for all of us to communicate to the public that being deaf is OK and even good for mankind. We need to campaign for a value relativism of hearing in the sense of “You (to a hearing person) can hear and value it. That is OK. It is equally OK that we don’t value it. I wish you to also respect this.”). A PR campaign to bring this message across to the public needs a lot of donation money, which I wish Marlee Matlin has done that, instead of campaigning for the obsession with hearing as a value.


April 15, 2011

Hi Hartmut:

I stand my my comment. Life is about making choices, and everyone is entitled to his / her opinion on issues. I respect Marlee Matlin’s choice of her charity. I believe she is on a mission to educate hearing people about the Deaf which may be the reason for picking
STARKEY HEARING FOUNDATION her choice for charity.

I applaud Amy Efron Cohen for supporting Marlee Matlin shown in her message…

“Marlee is not an engima, she is being savvy smart. Regardless how you may think of her and her choices she made. It is not my business to criticize her choices, and I am in a full support in what she is doing right now. She does not burn bridges, she EDUCATES many people more than you ever realize.”

Marlee Matlin has the guts to take risks in the mainstream community. She is ONE TOUGH COOKIE; she knows how to stand her ground, and will not be affected by criticisms coming from the Deaf Community.

i am a single mom of 4 kids 2 of them are grown now. any how, i have been deaf all of my life and i am in serious need of new hearing aide. cant afford it. and i am going crazy cause the world is getting quiter on me. my hearing is getting worse. please help me ! i wear hearing aide every day……..wont go near anyone with out one…………please i need help……………

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