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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.
Most profoundly deaf people have speech that is very difficult to understand.
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.
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.
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.
Being an actor myself I realize that all actors believe they are qualified to play any role. If you showed me a script with a black woman character I would tell you that I could do it. That is what we do. We act as if we are someone else.
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