Matthew Scott Moore

Rochester, N.Y., Wednesday, June 17, 1987

The deaf get ‘a magazine of their own’

Deaf Life has a quiet debut

By Greg Livadas


It’s modeled on mass-market magazines like People, Time and Life, but its debut has been relatively quiet.

The magazine is Deaf Life, a glossy, full-color 32-page production with features about deaf and hearing-impaired people. It’s the brainchild of Matthew S. Moore, a Rochester man who was born deaf.

At 28, Moore has produced and hosted a magazine-style show for WOKR-TV (Channel 13), acted in community theater and is working on a science-fiction screenplay.

But for the past year, his chief project has been Deaf Life, which was conceived, designed and laid out in his home on the city’s west side.

Last week, he mailed out more than 1,700 issues to subscribers in nearly every state, who paid $2.50 for each issue, sight unseen.

If he can sign up 50,000 new subscribers by December, he says the next issue of Deaf Life will be out in 1988 on a monthly basis. And he believes the audience is out there.

"There is no magazine produced by the deaf," Moore says. "They (the deaf community) want a magazine of their own."

There are currently magazines for the deaf published by Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C. and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. But they deal mostly with college issues.

Deaf Life, Moore says, is the first general-interest magazine about deaf people – and the first to go commercial, if he has his way. Moore says he plans to seek advertisers to help defray publishing costs.

THE TRIAL ISSUE features reviews of books and movies (seen with and without the benefit of captions), a profile of the first deaf politician elected to office and a story about the debate over which type of sign language to use in schools.

There’s also a 12-page feature about the founding members of the National Theatre of the Deaf and a profile of a deaf gymnast from Michigan.

Future topics Moore hopes to explore in the magazine include deaf prisoners, people who are both deaf and blind, deaf women in the business world, and how AIDS has affected the deaf community – complete with simple illustrations so that those who cannot read will still learn.

‘"I hope to have a controversial issue to let hearing people see why we’re politically weak," he says. "I can’t sit back and complain. I have to go out and do something about it...

Jacqueline Schertz, director of the Monroe County Association for the Hearing Impaired, agrees there’s a need for a commercial magazine like Deaf Life.

"There are publications related to the hearing impaired, but they are like a small newspaper with newsy-type information or politically oriented," says Schertz, who is deaf.

"This (Deaf Life) is more of a magazine format for fun reading. I still would like to read other magazines, but this is closer to home –I can relate to it more."

BUT MOORE IS QUICK to point out that Deaf Life is not just for the deaf community. He hopes the magazine will bring hearing and deaf people closer.

Just in the past year, he says, many hearing people have developed an interest in the deaf after seeing Children of a Lesser God, the Oscar-winning film about a deaf woman and a hearing teacher.

(The National Association of the Deaf, in Silver Springs, Md., estimates there are nearly 15 million hearing-impaired Americans, nearly two million of whom are deaf. In Rochester, more than 5,500 are hearing-impaired and more than 8,000 are deaf.)

So far, Moore has found subscribers through a mailing list of hearing-impaired people. A few yearly subscriptions have trickled in from people who liked what they saw in the trial issue.

Meanwhile, Moore will try to get the magazine sold in stores (the Village Green Bookstore already has 100 copies on the shelves in its Rochester and Buffalo stores) and to convince advertisers to support the magazine.

"Deaf people drink, smoke, buy clothes and drive," he says. ‘I hope the advertisers will put their money into it and reach out to the deaf community."

Moore realizes there’s the chance he won’t find his minimum of 50,000 subscribers willing to pay $24 for a year’s subscription.

"I don’t expect all people to buy it," he says. "If hearing people want to learn more about the deaf, then they should buy it. And once they’ve read it, I hope that they’ll want to know more about us."

And he hopes parents of deaf children will buy Deaf Life. "I want them to feel that deaf children will grow up all right," he says. "It is my hope that parents will see this and say, ‘Wow, deaf people did this? – maybe my son can do that too.’"

MOORE, WHO GREW up in Indianapolis, came to Rochester in 1977 and received a bachelor’s degree in social work at NTID. He says he had no courses in journalism, layout or design.

"I use common sense," he says about his work, adding that he created many of the magazine’s graphics on his personal computer with the help of a technical director.

Officially, he’s the magazine’s publisher, but he also is its movie reviewer, designer, photo editor, and publicist – in short, whatever needs to be done. He also makes and sells silk-screened sweatshirts advertising the magazine.

He’s hired a lawyer, art consultant and accountant to help with the business of publishing a magazine.

His motto, taken from Benjamin Franklin, is displayed on a poster he’s taped to a wall next to his office desk:

If you would not be forgotten,

As soon as you are dead and rotten,

Either write things worth reading,

Or do things worth the writing.

To obtain the trial issue of Deaf Life, send $3.61, which includes postage, tax and handling, to. MSM Productions, Cox Building, 36 St. Paul St., Suite 105, Rochester, N.Y., 14604.

Photocaption: Matthew Moore and Deaf Life, the new magazine he publishes here in Rochester. (Photo: Michael Schwarz/Times-Union)

Time-Union, Rochester, N.Y., Wednesday, June 17, 1987

Reprinted by permission of Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Webmaster’s note: This article was put on the Gannett News Service wire. It was published with different headlines (and in slightly different formats) in several Gannett newspapers across the nation:

Magazine caters to deaf readers

–Penascola News Journal (Florida), June 20, 1987

Deaf Life magazine speaks for silent community

The Journal (Ithaca, New York?)

‘Deaf Life’ magazine makes debut

Louisville Courier-Journal (Kentucky)

Deaf Life magazine makes debut

Cincinnati Enquirer, June 24, 1987

Magazine for hearing-impaired debuts

Marin Independent Journal (California), August 25, 1987

Magazine for deaf debts

The Journal (Montgomery, Maryland?), September 8, 1987

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