Marie Jean Philip was born on April 20, 1953, in Worchester, Massachusetts. She was the first-born child. Although she was born to deaf parents, Marie’s deafness came as a surprise for her parents. She had two sisters whom were also deaf. Deafness was hereditary in her family, however not everyone in her family was deaf. Marie’s father had one sister who was deaf and her mother had two siblings who were also deaf. When Marie was 11 months her parents noticed that she wasn’t responding to all noises. Her parents decided to test her hearing one day by creating noises behind Marie to see if she would respond. When Marie responded only to the loudest of noises, such as pots banging together, they found that at times she could hear with her right ear, but she could not hear anything out of her left.
Both of Philip’s parents attended oral schools. Her father later learned signed through his friends who were active signers. Her mother learned sign language when she met her father at age 18. By the time Marie was born, her mother, age 22, did not sign fluently. When Marie was old enough to go to school her parents endeavored to send her to Clarke School for the Deaf, a very famous oral school. Here she was rejected because she knew how to sign.
As Marie matured into a teenager she noticed that it was much harder for teenagers with deaf parent...
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... was never to become famous. She never wanted people to feel uncomfortable talking to her because she was so well-known. Marie liked to be looked at as normal person because she believed that she was just ordinary. She was a incredibly talented storyteller, and due to her facial expressions being so animated, children were especially fond of her stories. She became very popular in the children community. After she passed Northeastern University created the National Marie Jean Philip ASL Poetry, ASL Storytelling and Deaf Art Competition.
Marie’s life long advocacy and work in the deaf community earned her the place as an icon in the deaf community. Her efforts to legitimize ASL as language and bridge the deaf and hearing communities, have had a lasting impact. To this day she remains a respected and revered figure, and a pioneer in the bilingual-bicultural movement.
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