My Deaf Family and Little People, Big World


Marlee Matlin produced a new “reality” show of a family, consists of Deaf parents with their hearing and deaf children! It is called, “My Deaf Family.”

Leslie Firl and Bridgetta Bourne-Firl are the parents, with their wonderful children, Jared (15 years old- Hearing), Gideon (12 years old – Deaf), Sabrina (6 years old – Deaf), and Elijah (3 years old – Hearing). These children are also called as CODAs. For the readers who don’t know what CODAs stands for, and it is Children of Deaf Adults.

This is our first “reality” show dedicated to the Firl family in a very positive way, entertaining and educational for all of us. Just like the popular TV show on The Learning Channel called, “Little People, Big World” with the Roloffs.

According to the Twitter posts from Marlee Matlin, that this pilot show was presented before three major networks (including cable networks) and they rejected the pilot.

I am dumbfounded.

Why The Learning Channel network has THREE different reality shows focusing on the Little People of America? These three shows, “Little People, Big World”, “The Little Couple”, and the most recent one, “Our Little Life.”

These shows are extremely fascinating because I found that there are a lot of issues which are very similar to the Deaf people. Little People are fighting against prejudice, discrimination, ridicule, and ignorance, just like we, Deaf people deal with this every single day. These shows are very educational to the general public with a specific goal that these Little People are just like people! Except they are just Little!

We, Deaf people are just like people, Except we are just Deaf!

Please go to YouTube and watch this show. Tweet about it. Forward to all of your friends! Make sure your friends’ friends and families watch them. It comes with captions and voice-over.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Congratulations, the Firl Family and Marlee Matlin for making this show possible. Especially the Firl Family who are willing to reveal their private lives to the public. Marlee, thank you for your energy and commitment to make this project happen!

Amy Cohen Efron

Did you like this? Share it!

34 comments on “My Deaf Family and Little People, Big World

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amy Cohen Efron, Amy Cohen Efron. Amy Cohen Efron said: @marleematlin I wrote a blog about your pilot show! I am so proud of your accomplishments! […]

I loved the pilot, I believe it can become successful reality show. But I gotta wonder, why Marlee Matlin appeared in pilot show? Does that makes her a host of show?

I don’t watch much of Little People, Big World at TLC channel, but I remember that the show doesn’t have celebrity host. So I think Marlee could take herself out of picture, and work as executive producer or something.

Other possible criticism is that the show doesn’t have high drama. Hearing audience may not see any problem with the Firl family. I think it’d be cool if the show includes other family – hearing family with one or two Deaf children. So audience can see two competing approaches to life styles (ASL and Oralism). It can give viewers heck of emotional rides.

Kudos to Marlee Matlin for her great efforts! Just saying that she has room for improvement..

I am dumbfounded, too! Why didn’t the cable company take their opportunity to have this show to air for everyone to watch? Personally, the show is very exceptional one for our American audience.

Please continue the series of My Deaf Family in the air.



I am stunned that a few major TV networks shunned this pilot!

I absolutely Kiss*Fist this show, no question!!!! I would love to see it become a reality to be on a major TV network where people from all the walks of life can, will and shall embrace this Deaf world with a much-needed dose of enlightenment and empowerment, just like the ones with the Roloffs and many others with challenges in life! WHY NOT????

Thank you, thank you, Marlee!!

It’s a great pilot, but the issues in it are too commonplace and painfully so. I wonder if the storylines were compared to those of the Little People series.

Are there unique stories, funny stories, poignant moments that stick with people and illuminate humanity in little cameos? For example, to talk about discrimination is not as poignant as actually seeing it happen in action.

It would take a screenwriter to be able to analyze what made stations reject this and do better on the next one. Marlee, thanks for backing this, it’ll go a long way. Firl family, terrific situation and opportunity, thanks for sharing it with others. Bless you and the best of everything to all of you.

I just heard about this project on the evening news and ran to my computer to learn more. I’m pleased that Ms. Matlin found the Firls as they are a beautiful family with much to teach the hearing world. Congratulations to all!


Their family are so cool and beautiful family. Wonderful to hear or see what TV was about related a jobless or discrimination as such A to Z stuff. It is very ignorance.. I agree with the mother say same thing.

Wonder when it will announce in TV program? just curious.

I would love to see story plots in each family like any TV shows. We all have stories in our lives.

This is AWESOME! Go for it!

We should fight what we believe and we are the same as the world and we are the human being and the reality show.. Same as the Little People. Why can we show the reality of ur deaf culture and show people what we can do..

This is a really cool film. I am a bit confused about the comments written in regards to that family of these hearing kids are labeled as CODAs. Aren’t the kids supposed to be called KODA (Kids of Deaf Adults) instead of CODAs? These hearing kids are not adults yet, CODA (Children of Deaf Adult) represent those children who are themselves who are adults of Deaf parents and KODA represent who are still kid(s) of Deaf Adults.

Also, I am curious will the kids who are hearing when they become adults will they be referred as CODAs and SODAs?

Thank you,

Deaf parents with KODAs

will not watch.. 😛

Would definitely love to watch it. However, it needs editing on storyboard to try to convince all networks to get this story going. It would benefit a great deal for everyone who come up with having deaf child in their family, neighbor, co workers, etc… go for it and dont give up Marlee!

This is a wonderful show! Congrats Marlee! It’s very sad that this wasn’t picked up by a network and it just demonstrates the hearing world’s lack of understanding of what deaf people go through on a daily basis. So is it that they think deaf people aren’t “entertaining” enough? Let’s not even get into why the networks have three shows about little people – but my personal opinion is that it’s a form of exploitation. My Deaf Family is probably better off – at least for now, to be viewed on the internet. That will give the network with the proper morals and values to pick it up! Marlee, please keep doing what you’re doing…. the show is beautiful and it will give the hearing world (to include myself) a better understanding of your world. We need to make the effort to communicate with you and to make everything we have available to us, just as available to you! Someday, I hope to take my deaf girlfriend to the movies without having to research if they have resources available for her to enjoy the show – something I take for granted!

Way to go Marlee! This is excellent. Please let me know how I can help and keep it alive. Don’t give up!There are so many ways you can do this and I think you can capture it all! Why wont they give you a pilot series:

I am a CODA. I grew up in the 70’s when it was much tougher for deaf adults in a hearing world. At 10 I had to interpret for my parents for legal matters because there was no interpreter network! But my dad is one of the smartest men I know. He doesn’t have a Phd or MD or BA … just a high school diploma but he could always figure out how things worked and fixed them. He self taught himself a lot of things. He figured out how TTYs worked… the BIG MECHANICAL ones that were loud and kept me up at night when he got phone calls…. but he served the deaf community repairing and selling them… he recently retired from selling Sorenson Video Relay devices… he taught himself computers and this helped him in setting up IP addresses for the devices. But when he couldn’t figure something out with computers… he always had me.. I’m a Computer systems administrator/engineer…. and I’m a CODA.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Myy sister is now 40 tears old, her name is Michelle and my family has never learned sign language which I really would like to do. When their are family get together, she mostly sits and is ignored, they we all talk to her off and on but don’t stay constantly with her. Now she does’nt like to even come to alot of them because of this. I don’t blame her. I make a greater effort than I did before, because I realize how painful this is to her. Though not intentional, we just go on about our conversation as if she were.nt there forgetting she can’t hear us. I would so love to learn so I can communicate with her more. I do e-mail her quite a bit and try to let her know I love her. I’d love to surprise her and just start signing to her and let her know I cared enough to learn!!!
Pamela Jones
Dayton, Ohio

Congrats Marlee Matlin. It is so wonderful to see the Deaf get more exposure. I hope the big networks would pick this up. People are so ignorant when it comes to the Deaf. There are many people who have had little to no exposure. Still, there remains much disparity when it comes to education, jobs, public services, church etc. This show is just another step in the right direction. Thanks, Love You.


[…] Deaf Family DEAF WORLD AS EYE SEE IT My Deaf Family and Little People, Big World […]

Wonderful to have nice deaf and hearing families program. I do like watch Little People Big World and The Little Couple.

As you mentioned that no other cable based channel refused to use this kind of Deaf family hearing children is a purely case of audism. They are being racist! They do not know there were Deaf still living and do not wish to have the “Deaf” touches their cable in fearing of spreading “Deaf virus”! Suggest you keep trying to find one since they will really loose the court case!!!!

I enjoyed the concept and would love to watch this show…though it would be more of an impact ot see some of the things that they talk about occur in the show…difficulty of grandparents communicating with grandchildren…thw way people who work at businesses respond to this family…how do each of them attempt to overcome the communcation barrier? Mostly I’d like to tell Jared, hang in there…I got a mom like that too (1/2 smile)

MM is like Barbara Walters! GO-GO-GO!!!!

I cant wait to see it! I was raised by deaf parents

If TLC or whatever station reject this innocent reality show, then I will not watch Little People Big World, The Little Couple or any other kind of people reality shows. TV Network executive people I rather not call them management, should smarten up and wake up and watch My Deaf Family. That is uncalled for.

I am hearing. I have several deaf people who have been helpful to helping me improve my sign language. I would love to see this show to help other hearing people understand some of the difficulties faced by deaf every day. I hope Marlee will have success in bringing this to the larger American public through television. But I guess we can’t discount the power of the internet.

My grandparents were deaf. They each had childhood diseases which left them deaf at ages 4 and 5 respectively. They went to the Ohio School for the Deaf in Columbus, Ohio. There they learned to sign, were taught a trade, seamstress and tailor, and made lifelong friends. They married and had one child, my mother. Mom learned to speak on her hands before she learned to talk. She became a county treasurer in her home town and was often asked to interpret fro the deaf especially in legal, medical or finacial area, as the jargon is so hard to understand. Also she interpreted at the deaf church. One she was asked to interpret for Billy Graham Crusades in Singapre.
My grandparents were good citizens and loving parents. My grandfather whenever he would see someone begging because of a disability, would “chew them out” and tell them to work for a living and stop asking for welfare!
I am much richer having these grandparents and my Mom. They were wonderful people and probably much more wonderful because they dealt positively with deafness.

I agree with to stop begging like welfare (big) but many many deaf people tried to apply jobs they wont hire beucase of stupid insurnace too high price for hire deaf or disable. Also wont hire beucause of interpenter is too much money for pay an hr. then how can help to stop bigging but not their fault. I was working printer for six years until i got expect had a baby they lay off because insurnace. so i stay home until my children grown up started school then i decided to apply diffenent akind of jobs even V.R. too there was no way to hired beucase major is insurance. So i have no choice go to SSD or SSDi. I really dont like to depend on it but no choice. i had finish college five sucker years. still no luck. so i decide to keep SSDi is better than nothing. So i am so happy that deaf family will show on it big help hearing world to woke up. many many deaf people have good hands or mind. why they treat us like dog.

Congrats Marlee, but rejected therefore we still fight for our deaf pride and community to show anyone in the world that we can do anything expect cant hear!
Anyway, I am deaf parent of three hearing girls who is 12,14 and 17. They do wonderful for us as intrepter, and others but another side of us are not really happy among the hearing people. Since we are around them so they feel that we are something annoy to them. That’s reason they do is avoiding, unable to commincate and back off. Thats why we have no hearing friends around our girls. Some Kodas and Codas has friends thru deaf parents. My parents are deaf but my husband parents are hearing but they are together fine to commincate but others don’t.
Depends on this situation.

I’m really sad to hear that this show didn’t make it. I wonder if they would change their minds if many of us wrote to TLC. I would love to see a show like this on TV. I’m learning ASL so this would be such a valuable program for me and many of my other friends who are working hard to learn the language. I hope they’ll reconsider!


this show is great and i enjoyed watching it as i am a coda and married to a deaf man for 35 years and have deaf grandchildren and i can relate to what the young man was saying. i dont know how other hearing people with react to the show.

Great show, love it. I attended a private school in Pa. where I became friends with another student who shared the same birthday as I, she was deaf and I developed a very strong bond with her as we both had a disability that was misunderstood at the time. I became very fond of sign language and I wanted to learn it, however my friend was a lipreader and spoke, so she didn’t use sign language at all. Years later I finally learned the signed alphabet and slowly became fairly fluent in american sign language. Anyhow, I love sign language and I also enjoy this program with a deaf family. Marlee Matlin is a very popular person in the deaf community as well as the entertainment industry. Go Marlee.I hope you continue producing television that addresses the life of the deaf and hard of hearing community. I only hope that more people become fans of the language. It is now accepted as a bi-langual course of study in colleges and University.

Leave Comment

15 + 19 =