Q:Are you deaf? Please explain your family background.

I am profoundly deaf. I was born deaf, a “rubella baby,” of hearing parents. My mother was exposed to the German-measles (rubella) virus while she was pregnant with me. I was a normal baby, but by the time I’d reached toddlerhood (when hearing babies are energetically babbling, playing with sounds, and forming their first words), I was still “quiet.” My family thought I was “shy.” I was diagnosed as deaf when I was 18 or so months old–that is, my mother finally realized that I couldn’t hear. My folks, of course, took it very hard. They went through all the stages: denial, grief, anger.

My parents divorced when I was 8, so I grew up with my mother and younger brother and sister–Mark and Terri.

Q:Anyone else in your family deaf?

No. I’m the only one.



Q:Do they know sign language?

My mother learned some signs and fingerspelling, as did Terri and Mark; Lexie knows a little. (Unfortunately, I don’t get to see her often.) I’d have to say that aside from them, nobody in my family knows sign language. Mainly, I’ve relied on speechreading skills to communicate with them. However, I NEVER use my voice. When I communicate with my family or other hearing persons, I whisper–I form the words, but I don’t turn the volume on. I would never take a speaking role onstage. So I guess you could call me “nonspeaking Deaf.” (I was considered for the role of Orin in the original Broadway production of Children of a Lesser God.)

Q:Where are you from, and what schooling did you have?

My family lived in Indianapolis, and that was my first lucky break. I was enrolled at Indiana School for the Deaf when I was 3, and began learning to sign immediately. I recall the first time I entered the classroom–the teacher was showing me around. As in many other nursery-level classrooms, there were drawings of familiar things, pets, and objects posted around the room, with the corresponding word in large letters–but there was also a diagram of the corresponding sign. The first one I saw was “dog.” I was excited to see that–to realize that these things could be expressed and described by signs! I was exceedingly lucky to be enrolled in a good program, which ultimately evolved into a first-rate “Bilingual-Bicultural” one. Of course, I was subjected to a stiff dose of speech/auditory training–a traumatic experience for me, as I had a brutal speech therapist of the old “smack-’em-when-they-mispronounce” school. I hated it.

Still, I became a proficient speechreader. I won a speechreading contest when I was 7, and got to ride around the Indianapolis 500 track on the lap of the great Mario Andretti.

I boarded at ISD for several years, so, of course, I picked up ASL quickly. ASL is truly my first language, although I consider myself bilingual. I’m good at switching modes, depending on whom I’m communicating with–to Pidgin Sign English, Signed English, or ASL.

During my high-school years at ISD, I took many advanced-level courses for which I had to read a mountain of books and write reports. In one advanced literature course, all the other students dropped out, and I was the only one left, so I worked with the teacher one-to-one. But it was real punishment–I had to polish off several books a month. Too much.

My favorite books are Frank Herbert’s Dune series, James Clavell’s Shogun, and Ann Rice’s books (I’ve read them all)–particularly Interview with a Vampire and Tale of the Body Thief.

I was the valedictorian of my class at ISD (’77). In my speech, I told the audience that I had “no words of wisdom” to impart, as I was just setting out. In April 1997, I was invited back to give a speech at the Sesquicentennial festivities. I told the audience what I’d said at Commencement, and added that I felt I now had some “words of wisdom” to impart. I told them about my experiences as a publisher and community activist. Got a good response, too.

Q:What college did you go to?
(Update Needed)

Although I could have attended Gallaudet, I chose National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. I decided against Gallaudet because of the conformity factor. I wanted something different. NTID has a diverse population of deaf students–mainstreamed, residential-school, oral, ASL, Signed English, hard-of-hearing, minority, a good variety. Deaf students at RIT can take advantage of the array of “mainstream” courses. It could be frustrating, as they didn’t always offer the support services they were supposed to, but challenging, too. Anyway, that’s how I came to Rochester.

I got involved in the NTID theater program, and my spirits just took flight. I loved it. At ISD, I’d studied several Shakespeare plays in English class, and we performed passages in ASL. One thing led to another . . .

I was involved in 14 NTID productions. My first role was as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. (That’s where I got my current sign-name.) While working on The Fantasticks (my second play), I met a hearing RIT student, Tom Connor, who was doing voice. We became great friends, and I taught him how to sign. We later collaborated on several projects, including an experimental musical/sign-play which we produced.

Later I became a resident assistant and House Manager for the Performing Arts Department. It was a very busy time for me–but fruitful.

Q:What was your major in college?

I majored in social work and minored in filmmaking/photography.

Q:What led to your becoming a publisher?

I’d been actively involved with media since I was at Indiana School for the Deaf. I edited the school paper, The Reflector. When I was at the Jr. NAD Youth Leadership Camp, I edited its student publication, The Daily Drum.

In Fall 1981, I founded the Student Communications Center at NTID, because I wanted Deaf students to have hands-on experience producing and publishing a newspaper, and creating TV programming. The idea was to have an up-to-date media center run by NTID students, in much the same way as the “Little Paper Family” (Deaf periodicals of the second half of the 19th and earlier part of the 20th century) involved Deaf people in every aspect of the publication process–writing, proofing, layout, design, typesetting, printing, binding, and mailing. Even though many NTID students were majoring in Printing Production Technology, NTID had no student-run publications. Its glossy quarterly magazine, NTID Focus, had no student involvement. It was even printed by an outside company.

So I got some friends together and trained them, and we started the SCC, developed a newspaper, Perspectives, and a TV network (which started broadcasting after I graduated). After I left NTID, SCC collapsed and was abolished. But some of the people I worked with at SCC continued to work with me on my new venture–my own independent media company.

After I graduated, I produced and directed a pilot magazine-format TV program, Deaf Magazine. It aired in June 1984 on Rochester’s local ABC affiliate. There were segments about a Deaf swimmer, a Deaf priest, a Deaf-Blind convention, and local relay services. It drew unanimously favorable response. I funded it myself, by the way. I wanted to continue it–I drew up a detailed prospectus and budget estimates and all–but I couldn’t find the corporate underwriting I needed. All the available corporate funds, it seems, were going towards the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. No funding, no TV program. It wasn’t a total loss, though. It led to my starting DEAF LIFE.

When I produced Deaf Magazine, I formed my own company, now called MSM Productions, Ltd. That has evolved from a secondhand card table, two chairs, one Macintosh and an ImageWriter, to a well-equipped multimedia office with a Mac network, servers, scanners, and modems.

Q:How did you come up with

I started DEAF LIFE because I wanted to raise money to produce a TV series. It took off on its own path, of course. I wanted to publish a commercial, slick-format magazine for both deaf and hearing readers–something that Deaf Culture/ASL readers AND hearing readers could enjoy. I wanted it to be a commercial venture–to carry ads for mainstream products like Coca-Cola, Toyota, and Gap jeans. That hasn’t happened yet, but I haven’t given up! We do have several good loyal advertisers, and are getting a nice diversity–software, for example.

Our desire was to produce a magazine that could stand next to TIME and People Weekly–to be just as good, just as attractive. Actually, considering I run a “shoestring” company, I’ve gotten indications that DEAF LIFE has surprisingly wide influence.

I chose the title DEAF LIFE because Deaf people have an expression to indicate acceptance of being Deaf as a way of life or reality: “Deaf life, that.”

Q:What were your biggest obstacles/
frustrations in getting DEAF LIFE started?

The worst obstacles have been several individuals who are out to destroy my name, simply because they’ve misunderstood my motives. My motive in starting DEAF LIFE is to show good examples of how Deaf people who rely on ASL can lead rich, positive, and productive lives. Some members of the Deaf Community are jealous of my success as a businessman and publisher. I am dealing with a widespread disease called “Crab Theory.” My team and I have suffered enormously because of it.

My success wasn’t handed to me. I earned my reputation for quality. I worked hard for it. And I continue to work hard for it every day.

Money is the most obvious obstacle, so let’s count that a strong second. I started DEAF LIFE out of my own pocket, with help from friends. I received no grants, no assistance from SBA. But as time has passed, my company has been able to earn more, and reinvesting in improving our services to the community, and undertaking more projects.

Deaf Rochesterians' NewsMagazine

Deaf Rochesterians’ Newsmagazine, December 1987-June 1989, an independent local newsmagazine and Deaf Community calendar

Cue Up

(experimental play)

Cue Up was an abstract play that relied mostly on body language, using only a few signs.
It toured a few cities.

Matthew is using one of the script’s repeated signs: “typewriter.” (Photographer unknown)

Commencement address, Ohio School for the Deaf

Matthew gave the Commencement Address at
OSD’s commencement ceremonies on June 10, 1994.
Afterwards, he received this award as a token of appreciation for
his work with DEAF LIFE.

“Advocacy & Access” at BOCES

The Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES, pronounced “bowsess”)‚ is a county-wide network of public special-education schools. BOCES also provides support services to mainstreamed deaf students. Matthew gave the keynote address at Advocacy and Access: Support Service Personnel’s Eighth Annual Conference on Mainstreaming Students Who Are Deaf or Hearing-Impaired, May 6-7, 1994.

Deaf Heritage Week at Indiana School for the Deaf, 1993

In September 1993, Matthew participated in ISD’s Deaf Heritage Week. He delivered the keynote address for ISD’s celebration, toured the classrooms, talked with students, and answered questions. He received a touching personal note from Mary and Bob Kovatch, Matthew’s former teachers (below), and a more formal but equally warm letter of thanks from faculty members David Reynolds (bottom).

DEAF LIFE’s cover story commemorating ISD’s
Sesquicentennial was published in July 1994.

ISDAA Sesquicentennial Plaque

During ISD’s Sesquicentennial Celebration, Moore received this plaque from the ISD Alumni Association in recognition of his services to the Deaf Community as publisher of DEAF LIFE. It’s shaped like the State of Indiana.

Deaf Magazine

(pilot TV magazine-format series)

Deaf Magazine got unanimously favorable reviews from viewers and critics.


(silent video)

Table contains no dialogue. It isn’t mime, either. The characters communicate solely through expression, glance, and movement. What’s going on here? Tension, desire, conflict? The interpretation is up to the viewer.

The cast of Table: from left, Susan Smith, Peter Cook, Matthew S. Moore, Matt Hudson, and Pat Frawley.

Cook and Moore have a dialogue-less conversation as Smith and Hudson look on with amusement. (Photographer unknown)

C’est Autre Chose

(a musical revue co-written, co-produced, and directed by Moore)

The playbill for C’est Autre Chose.

Keynote Address
Indiana School for the Deaf, Commencement 2001

On May 18, Matthew gave a rousing address to ISD’s Class of 2001, alumni, faculty/staff, parents, and supporters. He was valeductorian of the Class of 1977. This marked the first time ISD had invited him to give a Commemcement Day address.

The March/April 2001 issue of the Silent Hoosier, the statewide Deaf Community newsletter, contained an appreciative firsthand account of Matthew’s address to the new graduates and their families.

33rd SERID

The Southeast Regional Institute on Deafness brings together VR, support-service, and deaf-education professionals for several days of conference sessions and workshops. The first SERID was held in 1971. Each annual conference rotates among the Southeastern states (Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Kentucky). The 33rd conference (SERID 2003) was held in Mobile, Alabama. Matthew, already a favorite among Alabamian audiences, was invited to give a performance.

SERID nnouncement card.
The conference theme used charming treasure-map graphics.

From the SERID prospectus.

The program-book cover.

AAD’s 38th Biennial Conference

The 38th Biennial Conference of the Alabama Association of the Deaf was held from June 21 through 23 in Huntsville. This marked another “first” for Matthew. In addition to conducting a workshop, he gave a memorable performance that included poems, original signsongs, and his unique brand of ASL humor. The audience was dazzled. The images above show the program-book cover and the page noting some of his achievements.

American Deaf Play Creators’ Festival II

Matthew served as Producer of the Second American Deaf Play Creators’ Festival, designed to encourage Deaf playwrights, directors, and performers to develop and stage new ASL works.

Second Deaf Play Creators’ Festival playbill cover.
To view the complete playbill: adpcf.pdf

Matthew received this congratulatory E-mail from NTID Dean T. Alan Hurwitz.

13th American College Theatre Festival,

Region 2, 1981

Matthew participated in the 13th American College Theatre Festival, held at the University of Delaware in January 1981. Representing RIT, he was one of 10 regional finalists who earned commendatiuon for the excellence of their acting.

This “Excellence in Acting’ certificate was awarded to him as a token of recognition.

National Theatre of the Deaf

(Professional Theatre School)

Matthew served as producer of the 1980 NTD Summer Program’s “Sum-Up Show,”
staged in late June.

He was assistant director of one of the staged readings of the 4th Annual Deaf Playwrights, also in June 1980.

At Writers & Books

Matthew participated in the Deaf Poetry Series sponsored by Writers & Books, a literary center/store/gallery/auditorium/stage housed in an attractive and imaginatively renovated old police station—one of the city’s landmarks and a prime cultural resource.

At Jazzberry’s

Jazzberry’s Restaurant & Cabaret was a colorful, much-loved (and controversial) Rochester institution for several years. Originally housed in a recycled firehouse with the Genesee Co-op’s array of studios, shops, and offices (it later relocated to East Avenue), it featured good vegetarian fare, lots of live music, and a variety of “alternative” performances, including ASL poetry. For a time, it was Rochester’s chief off-campus venue for ASL performers. In early 1987, Matthew gave one of his exciting performances here.

OAD Award, 1997

On October 18, 1997, Moore gave the keynote address at the Ohio Association of the Deaf convention in Columbus, and received this certificate as a token of thanks.

Lecture at Tower A. RIT/NTID

In 1991, NTID’s Deaf Culture Speaker Series invited Matthew to talk to students, faculty, and staff about his experiences as a publisher and businessman. Tower A lobby is a popular meeting place and site for informal public presentations.

Workshop at Southport High School

Above: this visitor’s pass, with the school logo—Matthew’s favorite bird—
is a souvenir of an exciting day.

Having come to Indianapolis to coordinate ASLTA’s Second National Professional Development Conference, Matthew took a bit of time to “visit around.” At the Conference, Glenn Carlstrand, Matthew’s old teacher at ISD, now at Southport High School, invited him to talk with his sign-language students, giving them an invaluable opportunity to practice their signing skills with a master. Matthew visited two classes. Students “interviewed” him about his life, schooling, and career. It was an enjoyable experience for everyone.

YLC ’99

Matthew participated in the 1999 session of the NAD’s Youth Leadership Camp at Camp Taloali in Stayton, Oregon. As usual,, he delighted and inspired the campers and staff, and as usual, received rave reviews.

2001 Veditz ASL Festival
at Northeastern University, Boston

Above and below: the ASL Festival prospectus

Below: The ASL Festival program-book cover

Matthew participated in Northeastern University’s 2001 Veditz ASL Festival. His presentations at the 2000 Festival having been enthusiastically received, he was invited back. On Thursday, May 10, he led an informal “Coffeehouse” question-answer session, and on Saturday, May 12, led an all-day “Great Deaf Americans” workshop.

Pathways to Your Future, 2000

Matthew participated in the 2000 “Pathways to Your Future” summer program for Deaf children, sponsored by Monroe #1 BOCES, on June 29 and 30, 2000. As this letter from Marty Nelson-Nasca shows, he helped organize a mock trial and presided as judge—all on short notice, but he did a fine job of it.

Deaf Writers/Storytellers Conference, The Learning Center for Deaf Children

Framingham, MA, October 22-23, 1992

Shortly afterwards, Matthew received this appreciative letter (below) with a copy of the newsletter.

UNHM, November 2002

Matthew participated in the University of New Hampshire’s Deaf Lecture Serieswith a well-received presentation on “Deaf Reality 101.” He also gave a “Great Deaf Americans” slideshow to students at Memorial High School, a pop quiz and some enlightenment to MHS’s ASL class, and a workshop on “Oppression” at a meeting of Allies, a group of advocates who seek better relations between the Deaf and Hearing communities. It was an exciting and memorable experience for the audience, the hosts, and for Matthew too.

Flyer announcing the UNHM lecture

Letter of thanks from Susan Wolf-Downes,
Executive Director of Northeast Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services

Dedication of Hoy Field at Gallaudet University

On April 7, 2001, Gallaudet University formally dedicated its baseball diamond as “Hoy Field,” to honor the memory of William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy, the first deaf major-leaguer. Matthew, who chairs the Hoy Committee, which is lobbying to have have Hoy inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, was invited to give a brief talk at the dedication.

It is known that Hoy visited the campus in 1888, during his stint with the Washington Nationals (also known as the Senators). He was impressed with the beauty of the campus, and enjoyed meeting students there. He may have participated in a game or two on this same field, which has been in continuous use since the campus was laid out in the mid-1860s. This would make Hoy Field one of the very few diamonds where Hoy played that are still in existence.

Hoy never had the opportunity to attend the college, but would have likely proved to be an excellent student. Charles Warren Carraway, a Gallaudet student-journalist who interviewed him in 1888, reported that he admired the college and may have entertained some wistful thoughts, but appeared to be content with his career as a baseball player. Hoy was serious and passionate and baseball, and was happiest when he was outfielding, although the Washingtons were a notoriously weak team.

Matthew received this plaque as a token of thanks for his work in publicizing Hoy’s career and achievements. The well-known studio photograph of Hoy, from an Old Judge tobacco card, was taken during his rookie year with the Washingtons in 1888.

Miriam Skaggs, Hoy’s granddaughter-in-law, flew in from California to attend the ceremony. She posed with Dr. I. King Jordan, President of Gallaudet University, proudly holding her plaque. Miriam is married to Carson Skaggs, one of three sons of Hoy’s younger daughter Clover.

Mrs. Skaggs also posed with Matthew on the happy occasion. Matthew is working on the first full-scale biography of Hoy, and Hoy’s family has been extremely helpful—sharing information, photographs, and leads. Naturally, they’re enthusiastic partisans of the campaign to have Hoy inducted into the Hall of Fame.

After the game (Gallaudet Bisons vs. Christendom College Crusaders), Matthew enjoyed a chat with Dr. Jordan, an old acquaintance.

Allies 2000 Conference

On Saturday morning, November 4, 2000, Matthew gave one of his dynamic presentations, “Stuck in the Bucket: What It’s Like to Grow Up Deaf,” at the Allies 2000 Conference in New Haven, Connecticut. That evening, he signed copies of For Hearing People Only.

The conference schedule.

The envelope from Matthew’s registration packet.

This attractive certificate was presented to him as an acknowledgement of his participation.

Gallaudet University’s Deaf Executives in
Residence Program, September 1998

Matthew participated in Gallaudet University’s Deaf Executives in Residence Program at the School of Management. On September 8 and 9, 1998, he visited classes, fielded questions, and discussed business topics with students. This letter accompanied an inscribed silver-plated apple, the “token of appreciation.”

TDC’s 3rd Annual Conference, 1992

On November 7, 1992, Matthew gave a luncheon talk at
TDC’s 3rd Annual Conference in Tyler. He discussed such topics as politics in the Deaf community and working with the media.

Illinois DHS/RCD Presentation

In March 1998, the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Services for Persons Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing invited Matthew to give a motivational presentationn at the Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf Statewide Meeting, held at the Matteson Holiday Inn in Matteson, Illinois. He gave his presentation on May 20, 1998, encouraging his audience to recognize that they could make or break themselves.

Great Deaf Americans talk at Barnes & Noble

On April 26, 1997, Matthew and Robert F. Panara gave a talk at a local Barnes & Noble about Great Deaf Americans: The Second Edition. Panara was the primary author of the first edition of Great Deaf Americans, and had assisted with the preparations for the new edition. Above are the first and third pages of the Barnes & Noble Events calendar listing the talk.

Boston Public Library presentation

Matthew gave a Great Deaf Americans presentation-slideshow at
the Boston Public Library on September 26 and 27, 1996.
Below is BPL’s letter of thanks.

Show Me Symposium, 1996

On February 24, 1996, Moore gave a presentation, “Literacy 101: Giving Deaf Children the Basics,” at the Show Me Symposium: Educating Children Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, in Columbia, Missouri. This description is taken from the program book.

Lectures at Johnson County Community College
during Deaf Awareness Week, Spring 1995

Matthew participated in the Deaf Awareness Week festivities and educational events (March 25-30 and April 1, 1995) sponsored by the Gallaudet University Regional Center at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas (over the state border from the south suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri). The four photos below, taken at one of his three lectures, capture a glimpse of his dynamic stage presence.

NTID’s ASL Lecture Series

This is the letter of invitation from Barbara Ray Holcomb, an old friend.

at University of California, Berkeley

Matthew gave a presentation at this festival, a celebration of Deaf creativity
in the fine and performing arts.

The Diviners

April 21-24, 1983

Matthew served as one of three sign-language consultants for NTID’s Spring 1983 production of The Diviners (script by Jim Leonard, Jr.).