Moira Brown speaks with Sue Thomas about how she has been deaf since she was a young child and how God has used her as a secret weapon for the FBI and shared that story through the television series "Sue Thomas F.B.Eye".
When Sue Thomas was a little girl in Youngstown, Ohio, she was tormented by bullies "for speaking funny". It got so bad that the only deaf student in the school wouldn't open her mouth in class. But in the schoolyard, she fought back--leaving more than one nose bloody.
The real-life model for Sue Thomas:FBEye has fought such battles all her life. Thomas, profoundly deaf since she was 18 months old, shattered expectations by learning to speakclearly through years of painstaking practice, starting at age 3. Despite being relegated to what she calls "the dummy class" in public school, she became a fine pianist, even though she could only feel the vibrations of the music, and went on to earn a degree in political science from Springfield College in Massachusetts.
But Thomas is currently facing a bigger battle. She has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which has affected her mobility and her window to the world--her sight. Numbness in her right hand affects her piano playng and signing.
Faith is what keeps her going, she says. "I believe that my deafness and my MS have been used to teach me profound lessons in life: a way to understand other people's pain and limitations and identify with who they are and what they need."
FBEye explores Thomas's career as a special assistant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Her uncanny ability to read lips lifted her out of a dreary job analyzing fingerprints and raised her to deciphering both surveillance tapes and live conversations among suspects under observation in public places. Thomas, who was also the FBI's first deaf tour guide, admits to working on cases involving white-collar criminals, drug dealers and corrupt government officials, but bureau rules forbid any further disclosure. The show's cases are fictional, as are the life-threatening heroics displayed by her TV alter ego (played by deaf actress Deanne Bray) and the character's trusty canine aid, Levi (also the name of Thomas' first service dog).