America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) just wrapped up its 22nd and final season. Since the show’s inception, we have seen a number of talented individuals who have gone on to do big things in the fashion/modeling industry, like walk the runway for high-fashion designers such as Tory Burch and Ralph Lauren. It wasn’t until the judges met Nyle DiMarco this past “cycle” that the show welcomed its first deaf contestant.

Nyle DiMarco is a Washington D.C. native and attended the Maryland School for the Deaf. He spent his college years at Gallaudet University where he graduated with a mathematics degree and a dream of becoming a math teacher. Those plans changed in 2014 when Nyle landed a role as Garrett on the popular ABC family show, “Switched at Birth”. Between his time on the show and active social media profiles, the ANTM casting directors knew they had to have him as a contestant.

Since day one Nyle claims he has had the support of the Deaf community cheering him on as he set out on his ANTM journey. According to an interview with MTV News, Nyle said that he saw a lot of support on social media and reassurance that he was representing the community well. The Deaf community may have had his back, but Nyle decided to keep his win a secret, knowing that the small, close-knit community would have trouble keeping the juicy secret as well!

What most people don’t realize is that shortly after ANTM ended, Nyle moved to New York City and began working in the fashion industry. In addition to his new modeling career, he is also a spokesperson for LEAD-K, “a visual civil rights movement to end the nationwide epidemic of language deprivation by promoting language equality, American Sign Language (ASL) and English, as a basic human right or all Deaf babies, leading to a new generation of Deaf children who are kindergarten-ready”. His ambition to profoundly impact the Deaf community doesn’t stop there. Nyle is currently working with the ASL App as one of their signers.

Nyle had a pair of helping hands while on ANTM, Ramon Norrod was Nyle’s ASL interpreter every step of the way. Ramon was often seen on screen signing between Nyle and the judges, communicating the photoshoot director’s commands and much more that helped Nyle get to the final episode. Ramon is a freelance interpreter that works in the entertainment industry, and was brought on by the ANTM staff to assist Nyle. The two met via Skype a few short days before the show and had an instant connection.

Although Ramon was a huge help, Nyle tells People that he “strongly believes that being Deaf” gave him a huge advantage over his competition because his “native language, American Sign Language, requires the use of facial expressions and body language expressions” which helped him produce high-quality shots at photo shoots.

America’s Next Top Model may have come to an end, but winner, Nyle DiMarco is not soon to be forgotten.

Check out this video to listen to Ramon Norrod give a taste of what it is like interpreting for Nyle and on a reality show – www.youtube.com/watch?v=enQSTKBAJcQ.

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