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Kitty O’Neil: Fastest woman in the world

Kitty O’Neil was a daredevil, stunt woman, racer, and…deaf. She was also the fastest woman in the world. Like most of the people in this series, her story isn’t so much about her disability as it is about her accomplishments and her adventures. O’Neil’s stunt work was transformational in the entertainment industry, and her racing set world records.

Kitty O’Neil was born on March 24, 1946 in Corpus Christi, Texas to a Cherokee mother and an Air Force father. While still a baby, she contracted several diseases simultaneously, causing a high fever which destroyed her hearing.

Determined to ensure that her daughter have the best possible start in life, O’Neil’s mother went back to school at the University of Texas to learn how to teach the deaf. She spent years working with O’Neil to read lips and speak, but refused to allow her daughter to use sign language. Despite the communication issues, O’Neil flourished in school, taking up the cello and participating on the swim and diving teams… read more >

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