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Nyle DiMarco spreads deaf awareness on TV show ‘What Would You Do?’

Nyle DiMarco on What would you do
Have you ever faced discrimination in a public place just because of your hearing loss?

After several discriminatory acts made it into the news headlines recently, Deaf activist and model Nyle DiMarco teamed up with the TV show “What Would You Do?” to see how ordinary people would react to public deaf discrimination.

“What Would You Do?” is hosted by news correspondent John Quinones and has been broadcasted on ABC since 2008. During the show, actors preform a scene of conflict or a dilemma. Hidden cameras capture the reactions of people, seeing if they take action or continue minding their own business. Once a person has reacted, they eventually find out they are on the show and John Quinones will come out to debrief everything that happened.

In this particular instance, DiMarco joined Quinones to evoke reactions from people who see an uncooperative waiter attempt to serve a Deaf man in a diner. Both the waiter and Deaf man were played by actors.

“I’m hoping that people won’t just stand by,” DiMarco told Quinones before the show. “I’m hoping that people won’t be bystanders.”

After seeing the reactions from people, DiMarco and Quinones reveal themselves. Quinones explains that they are on camera, and DiMarco explains how these situations happen in a real-life and why deaf people appreciate allies in these types of situations.

What were the reactions?

DiMarco plays the role of a man named JW, who wants to enjoy a meal at a diner. He interacts with an actor playing the role of the waiter named Tyler, who doesn’t have the patience to try and communicate with JW. Tyler says rude remarks about JW’s deafness and says that he can’t serve him. “What Would You Do?” showed several reactions to the situation, most being positive.

The first reaction we see is from a communications professor who asks for the waiter to be more sensitive. When he doesn’t do so, she goes to tell his manager, who is also an actor on the show. Tyler asks why she approached his manager.

“I’m a professor of communication skills,” she says. “You have none.”

“I’m a professor of communication skills,” she says. “You have none.”

After the reveal of DiMarco and Quinones, she was asked why she stepped into the situation.

“I didn’t like his attitude, I didn’t like his tone of voice and I didn’t like what he said,” she told Quinones.

Most other reactions were positive, except for one. It wasn’t completely negative but was from a woman who still expected deaf people to “be more prepared” rather than having a hearing person accommodate them.

She said this after the JW didn’t have a pen to write out his order, she explained that he should have a pen if he knew he was going to have communication difficulties.

Once the woman found out that she was on the show, DiMarco explained to her that deaf people usually don’t carry paper and a pen around anymore due to technology and cellphones.

The last reaction was the most passionate positive reaction of them all.

A man was brought to tears when explaining why he stood up for JW.

“It don’t matter [that JW was a stranger], I don’t care who he was,” the man says. “You don’t treat somebody like that.”

DiMarco shares his experiences

Although the show is dramatized, it is still spreading deaf awareness, which DiMarco is clearly happy to see. Quinones ask DiMarco if he has ever experienced this type of discrimination himself.

“Sure,” DiMarco says. “I think it’s a lot worse knowing that my entire family is deaf. All of us being deaf if we go out to a restaurant often waiters are completely petrified. They’re not sure what to do with us. You can see kind of in their eyes their world collapsed when they see us and are trying to figure out how to communicate with us.”

Read more: Nyle DiMarco’s deaf twin brother proves Deaf can DJ 

DiMarco also had several positive reactions to what he saw on the show. He said that his faith in humanity had been completely restored. He also thanked each person for standing up and taking action.

“Honestly, thank you so much,” Nyle says on the show to a bystander. “Thank you for standing up. Often we’ll go out to eat and servers will treat us really rudely and be condescending to us and it’s really great that you got involved.”

“…Often we’ll go out to eat and servers will treat us really rudely and be condescending to us and it’s really great that you got involved.”

DiMarco has also spread deaf awareness about cinema captioning, airplane accessibility, and captioning on YouTube videos. Although he is well known around the world for his modeling and acting, DiMarco still faces discrimination and uses his platforms to make deaf voices heard.

Others in the community are glad DiMarco did this episode on “What Would You Do?” since it sparks a discussion about this issue that happens to a large population of people with hearing loss.

We hope to see more shows spread deaf awareness in the future.

Did you watch Nyle DiMarco on “What Would You Do?” If not, you can watch the full episode here!


Author Details
The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill Blocker von Bueren and Lisa Goldstein.