When Robbie Martin was a baby, his parents were told by doctors that he would probably never sit or walk, and that he certainly would never be able to hear. His mom and dad refused to accept this and their good faith in their son paid off, but it also cost his family money. Robbie’s parents worked extra jobs to get him the professional help he needed to develop normally and he grew up being able to run and play with other kids, even though he is deaf.
As a teen, Robbie applied for after-school jobs to help contribute to his family’s expenses but was often turned down once they found out he was deaf. Knowing how much his parents had sacrificed for his development made Robbie even more determined to succeed- he was determined to someday help his by mother be earning money of his own.
When his classmates at New Bedford High School started asking Robbie for sign language lessons, he taught them to sign during free periods, at lunch and after school and while teaching basic signing skills at the Kids College at Bristol Community College, Robbie saw an opportunity to combine his teaching ability and the need for his services. While taking NFTE in school, Robbie was able to use these skills to create The Deaf Academy.
When presenting his business plan against the other students’ in the regional NFTE competition, Robbie knew his biggest challenge would be to capture and keep the attention of his audience so he brought along a sign language interpreter to speak out loud while Robbie would sign. When he first started presenting, he asked the interpreter to not speak and he signed to the judges asking if any of them wanted free Celtics tickets. When no one understood, and therefore did not answer, he told them, “You don’t want to miss an opportunity like that again. If you took my class, that wouldn’t happen”, justly proving his point and insuring all eyes in the room were on him.
Robbie is currently a student at Gallaudet University.