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February 25, 2004

Deaf Barber Knows Life Stories Of Regulars

From:, FL - Feb 25, 2004

Earl Brigham Has Run Barber Shop For 40 Years

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. -- A deaf barber in Winter Garden has been cutting hair for the past 40 years and knows the life stories of his regulars despite the fact that he is unable to talk to them.

Customers visit Earl Brigham because of his attention to detail and $8 haircut price, WESH NewsChannel 2 reported.

His wife, Robin, is amazed by her husband's determination to overcome obstacles.

"He comes home and knows the life story of his customers, how many, when, what, kids, and I say 'How do you do that? You can't talk!'" Robin Brigham said.

Earl has been deaf since he was a child. His mom noticed the disability when Earl stopped responding to sounds at age 2.

"He's an inspiration to everyone he meets," Robin Brigham said. "He's unique. There's nobody I know like him."

Although Earl is known for his talent with scissors, he once received attention for his skills on the football field.

In the early 1960s, Brigham was the star halfback at the Florida School for the Deaf.

"Over the years, folks waiting in line tell me 'You should have seen him play football when he was younger,'" Robin Brigham said.

However, Earl has had some negative responses from customers after they find out he is deaf.

"Sometimes they will leave," Robin Brigham said. "Other customers will say 'This is Earl. He is deaf. He's a good barber,' and they'll come back."

Patience is the key to communicating with people, according to Earl.

"Many times the deaf say, 'There's discrimination against deaf people' and 'I can't get a job' and I tell them no ... Look what's happened here with my barber shop. You need to be patient; people will get used to you as a deaf person," Earl Brigham said.

Earl said that his children are the motivation for his hard working nature.

"I would like to be an example to my children," Earl Brigham said. "I want them to see that their dad works hard, and they'll do that when they grow up."

To comment on this story, send an e-mail to Bill Shafer.

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