The Inspiration Behind The Inspirational Sue Thomas FBI

Thursday 2nd November, 2017

There is a popular digital TV channel called Drama, so-called because it airs classic television dramas. These range from historical, period programming to well-loved cop shows. The channel is now screening a cult Canadian crime series from the early 2000s about an incredible real-life figure who broke down barriers for disabled people in the workplace. It just so happened that she worked for the biggest law enforcement agency in America. Her name was Sue Thomas and her amazing true story was the inspiration for the hit TV series `Sue Thomas FBI (Eye).

It is a police procedural series about an attractive young deaf woman who, through her exceptional lip-reading skills, is recruited for a crime fighting unit at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This was why the show had the working title `Lip Service`. In each episode, the team must solve a crime or avert a crisis, with the aid of the amiable Sue and her lovable hearing dog Levi. The stories featured in the show may be fictional but certain characters were based on real people.

The actual Sue Thomas was the first deaf person to work as an undercover FBI agent. She was born in 1950, and became profoundly deaf at eighteen months old, although the cause is not known. However, she was determined from a young age to never let her condition hold her back, and it was a belief she held onto through her life.

Sue Thomas leaned to talk through extensive speech therapy and developed the ability to read lips. After graduating with a degree in Political Science, she heard the FBI were hiring the hard of hearing. She began as a fingerprint examiner before a fellow agent discovered her extraordinary lip-reading abilities. Sue could utilise her skills to identify what suspects were saying. It was especially useful when it wasn’t possible for agents to wear concealed audio equipment like bugs, radiomics orrecording devices. Sue Thomas ended up working for the FBI for four years, from 1979 to 1983.

Her life story was later the inspiration for the hit tv show. It starred the actress Deanne Bray from `Heroes`, who is deaf in real life. She is fluent in American Sign Language and would often teach the cast and crew between takes. Miss Bray also works to improve the lives of the hard of hearing and endorse education for deaf children. She is an inspirational figure in her own right, and an advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing. She is a trail blazer, just like the person she plays in Sue Thomas FBI (Eye).

We at Darroch Hearing are committed to helping the hard of hearing improve their lives. It is achieved through our excellent evaluation and treatment procedures, as well as our exceptional range of hearing aid solutions. If you are suffering from hearing loss, you too could achieve your dreams in life, just like Sue Thomas.


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