– In a “Project Runway” season where fights between contestants raged for hours, one of the finalists took refuge in what some would consider a disability: being deaf.
Justin LeBlanc of Raleigh would turn down the volume on his cochlear implant or completely remove the external device, and he would focus on his designs. “It worked to my advantage,” LeBlanc said. “It allowed me to block out all the drama.”
LeBlanc fell short of the win, but by making it all the way to the final four, he helped educate the viewing – and hearing – public about being deaf.
“A lot of people have never been around a deaf person,” he said, though 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. are born deaf or hard-of-hearing, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
LeBlanc hopes his appearance on “Project Runway” helped dispel some assumptions, myths and stereotypes about deafness.
Among the misperceptions: