Louie J. Fant, Jr. (1931-2001)

Image Description: A group of five people sit on light colored couches on the set of a TV show. To the left, two men in suit and tie, sit smiling at the others. On the right, a man sits between two women his arms his around them. Behind the grouping the back of set has a sign featuring two hands creating a rainbow that reads “Off-Hand”
Herb Larson, Lou Fant, Dorothy Sinclair, Hector Elizondo, Vickie Arthur on set of Off-Hand. Image Source: The Silent Network.tv

Louie J. Fant, Jr. was a founding member of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and a well-known figure in the American deaf community for most of his life. Born in 1931, to deaf parents Louie J. Fant, Sr. and Hazeline Reid, he was raised in Greenville, South Carolina and Dallas, Texas. As an adult, Fant went on to become an instructor at the New York School for the Deaf, Gallaudet University, California State University at Northridge (CSUN) and Seattle Central Community College. He utilized his education at Baylor University (B.A.) and Columbia University (M.A., Special Education) to remain deeply involved in the deaf community, promoting advocacy and deaf education. Four books on the subject are credited to him, Say it With Hands (1964), AMESLAN; an Introduction to American Sign Language (1972), and American Sign Language Phrase Book (1983).

Fostering a life-long interest in theatre, Fant was a key figure in the founding of the National Theatre of the Deaf, in 1967. For the first three years, he toured with the company, playing many roles. He also appeared in over 30 movies and tv shows, including Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Amy, Love is Never Silent. He contributed his skills to the entertainment industry as a consultant and sign language coach as well. In the 1980s, Fant teamed up with Herb Larson (former director of the National Center on Deafness, CSUN) to co-host Off-Hand, an emmy winning local TV show in Southern California.

Brief summaries about Louie Fant Jr. are available in Deaf Life (December 2010, pg 18-19, March 2014, pg 14) Obituaries by the Los Angeles Times and New York Times describe his expansive impact and an article in Gallaudet University publication On the Green provides additional insight.

[Image description: In the center a hand, outlined in black, signs "Spotlight". A yellow shaft of light emanates from the palm, creating a spotlight. Black text to the right reads "Koda Spotlight".]