You have to give people the opportunity to prove themselves.
Most profoundly deaf people have speech that is very difficult to understand.
There is no relation to sound for deaf people. It is a totally different mental process.
I actually then went on to direct an after-school special where one of the characters was deaf. They hired me without even knowing I had any connection to the community.
No one will ever argue that someone could have played Helen Keller better than Patty Duke. It was an incredibly demanding role and I don't think anyone can argue that it was a false performance.
I know deaf people. I have discussed the issues with them I've also thought about them a lot so I have some insights that go a little further than people who haven't had contact with the deaf community.
Spelling is very easy to practice yourself whereas signing is not. So I would sit on the subway riding around New York and I would spell whatever I would see. When I watched a movie I would spell words as they came up.
For example, the first time McDonald's put a deaf person in a commercial they saw a jump in sales. I think that happens with other kinds of disabilities and products and that is something that is being realized more and more.
But people who think they can project themselves into deafness are mistaken because you can't. And I'm not talking about imagining what a deaf person's whole life is like I even mean just realizing what it is like for an instant.
The deaf community is in a favorable position because they have a national theatre and training groups of their own to get them started. Deaf actors have often acquired very valuable skills and experience before they get their break.