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Local deaf community inspired by 'DWTS' winner

Posted at 7:51 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 10:44:07-04

Tuesday was the big finale for "Dancing with the Stars," and some people here in Las Vegas say the winner is helping them overcome stereotypes about their disability.

"Dancing with the Stars" winner Nyle DiMarco dances, but he can't hear the music.  DiMarco moved the audience to tears with his final performance, but it was his message Monday night to the deaf community, to find hope after years of oppression, that really hit home for members of the Las Vegas deaf community.  

"The notoriety, the ability to be proud of what we represent, is amazing, and he's doing that for us," says Caroline Bass, the lead faculty of the Deaf studies program at College of Southern Nevada.  

CSN is home to the state's only interpreting program, and members of the program say the deaf community in Las Vegas is growing.  They expect that number to continue growing, with the addition of a deaf Community Center being built in the valley in the next couple months.  

They say it's because of people like DiMarco -- who have used their celebrity status as a platform for education -- that their culture has earned respect.  

"Most deaf people can do anything like a hearing person," says Sherrie Solomon, a mentor at CSN.  "Nothing is impossible."