Friday, January 18, 2013

Mike Holmes Helps The Deaf Community

From Mike's Facebook yesterday:

Day 1 on a new project for Holmes Makes It Right. Walking through the house with the homeowner and her interpreter. First time working with a deaf homeowner - hopefully I can pick up on some sign language by the end of the project!

As most Holmes on Homes fans know, this is not Mike's first run in with deaf people and interpreters. In the 2007 episode "Country Kitchen" Mike helps rebuild a kitchen for a sign language interpreter and her husband, who requested an open floor plan to better accommodate the visual needs of their deaf friends. Along the way, Mike learns how to fingerspell his name M-I-K-E and also how to sign the phrases "make it right" "nice to meet you" and "thank you very much." This episode is a fan favorite because country music star Charlie Major also makes a guest appearance and performs a special song at the end (see Mike Holmes and Charlie Major Make It Right for more information).

I think one thing that Mike probably doesn't know about himself is that he is a very big star in the Deaf community! I went to school to be an interpreter, and was in a deaf theater company for four years. I even met my husband at a deaf picnic, and started dating him after attending a deaf bowling league event. My husband is not deaf, but my brother and sister in law are both deaf. I sign, my husband signs, and most of my family signs, so sign language has been a big part of my life for many years. I do know that Mike is just as iconic in the deaf community as he is in the hearing community. The reasons why are simple. First, many deaf people gravitate towards the trades as a career choice, because the trades better suite their communication and skill sets (although I do have deaf friends who are college professors with Master's degrees, so I don't want to characterize all deaf people with the same broad brush). Secondly, his shows are visually entertaining - Mike explains by doing, not just by talking. Not to mention that Mike is easily recognizable visually with his overalls and buzzed hair cut. Deaf people like that! And last but not least, Mike has recently and in the past expressed a willingness and an interest to learn more about deaf people. I don't think he fully realizes that by working with members of the deaf community, he's pretty much securing his place in the hearts and minds of deaf people around the world. Like any group, deaf people appreciate when anyone brings awareness to their community.

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