Last week, Nyle DiMarco became a household name. Not only was he the first deaf contestant on America’s Next Top Model, he was also the winner in the final season of the show, making him the last next top model ever. This came on the heels of DiMarco causing quite a stir on Twitter after calling out American Airlines for lack of captioning on their in-flight entertainment. November 24, Nyle tweeted:
Nyle’s tweet was met with enthusiastic support by fans, advocates, and Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who has done considerable advocacy herself to make the closed captioning of content universal. While American Airlines was swift to respond, many people found what was said to be unapologetic, unhelpful, and insensitive.
DiMarco did not hold back his feelings about American Airline’s response to his complaint, first saying, ” I can’t believe I’m reading this,” shortly followed by another tweet that said, “@AmericanAir went with an audist reply instead. An apology, sensitivity (re)training, & a solution are needed asap.” DiMarco then retweeted a number of followers urging him to contact the National Association of the Deaf and file an ADA complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as individuals saying they planned to boycott American Airlines.
It looks like this is just the beginning of DiMarco using his newfound celebrity to draw more attention to the gaps in accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Yesterday, he was helping boost the #WHccNow (White House Closed Captions Now) movement, urging the Obama administration to add closed captions to all of the videos they publish to social media:
A huge congratulations to Nyle for making history and making a difference in the lives of millions of Americans.