Wednesday, May 03, 2006

TLA Conference Notes, Day 2: General Session II

The speaker for the afternoon general session on Day 2 was Ms. Marlee Matlin, actress and writer. She is well known for her role in the film Children of a Lesser God (1986), but she has had various roles in film and television, including recent appearances in the television drama The West Wing. Ms. Matlin gave a very inspirational and moving speech. She also read an excerpt from her new book, Nobody's Perfect. She opened by saying that she is an actress who happens to be deaf. She told us various stories of her work in Hollywood and how she succeeded in spite of being told her career would be over after Children and the award she won for it. Clearly, she proved the naysayers wrong as she keeps on going. She gave examples of barriers and how to overcome them, but not to trivialize. Her goal is to walk around the barriers. She reminded us that the handicap of deafness is not in the ear; it's in the mind. In the end, "life is about reaching for dreams and never stopping."

We had ample time to ask questions, and various members of the audience asked questions, made observations, or shared their own experiences with a family member or friend who is handicapped in some way. This made for some very moving moments. Overall, this was probably one of the best sessions at the conference.

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