Sue Thomas: FB Eye
Sue Thomas was born in 1950 in Ohio. When she was 18 months she became deaf. Her parents didn't notice at first but figured out there was something wrong when she didn't respond to their voices. The doctors said that nothing could be done to restore her hearing. Her parents were told she would never amount to anything and they should institutionalize her. Her mother and father made a lifetime vow to do everything in their power to enable her to become part of the hearing world as much as possible. They ignored the doctors and sent her to public school. Sue was the only child in her entire school district that was deaf. She was bullied at school and on the playground. She lived down the street from an ice skating rink. She worked hard on her ice skating and became the youngest Ohio state ice-skating champion in skating history. She used the vibrations from the ice and the walls to feel the music playing. Although she had success on the ice rink she was having a miserable time at school. She learned to speak by imitating the vibrations she felt when she put her hands on her speech therapist's throat while looking in a mirror to see this shape of her mouth as she spoke. She worked every day to master the art of lip reading. She sat in the front row and taught herself to read the lips of her teachers. Sue not only graduated from elementary school, and high school, she also graduated from college. Sue went to Springfield College in Massachusetts. Sue looked for a job for months after graduating from college. She finally found a job in the FBI taking fingerprints.
One day some of the agents were working on a case where the recording failed on the surveillance cameras. They asked her to come in and watch the tape and interpret it for them using her lip reading skills. She wrote down what they said. She became an expert lip reader for an undercover surveillance team in Washington DC. She worked for the FBI from 1979 to 1983. In 1990 Sue Thomas wrote her autobiography called Silent Night. The book was a huge success and in 2002 they based a television series on her book. The TV series was called Sue Thomas FB EYE. The actress Deanne Bray who played her in the television show was deaf. The television series brought greater recognition of the abilities of the deaf. In 2001 Sue Thomas was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She did not let it keep her down and she even wrote a book about her experiences called Staying in the Race. Sue Thomas is alive and well living in Vermont with her dog Katie. She is a sought after public speaker who promotes acceptance of people of all abilities.