The Sound of Silence in Football


Derrick Coleman, a football player with the Seattle Seahawks, is the only legally deaf athlete in professional football history to play offense. In early January 2014, he made a commercial where he talks about the impact his hearing impairment has had on his life. The video went viral and in less than a week, had 5.5 million views. Coleman’s story provides an excellent teaching opportunity to discuss disabilities and the importance of safeguarding the rights and dignity of people with disabilities in our communities and around the world. As the U.S. Senate debates whether to ratify an international treaty on disability rights, Derrick’s story provides an opportunity to put a human face on the impact that fair policy can have on people’s lives.

In this lesson, students will discuss this inspiring football player, learn more about Derrick Coleman’s life and reflect on a story written by a deaf teenager.


This lesson plan has been put together by the Anti-Defamation League, and a pdf version is available here.


Learning Standards


  • R.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • R.3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.



  • W.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.


Speaking and Listening

  • SL.2: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.



Link to the original page is available here.


The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Now the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.



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