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/ Source: TODAY
By Lindsay Lowe

Beauty blogger Catherine Martinez is a pro at contouring, highlighting and creating flawless brows — and she also happens to be a trailblazer in the deaf community.

Martinez, 24, uses sign language in her beauty tutorials to make them more accessible to deaf and hearing-impaired people. Her inclusive online videos have earned her more 35,000 loyal Instagram followers, and counting.

She was inspired to create sign language tutorials by a deaf classmate at NYU, where she recently earned a degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders. The classmate asked Martinez for help interpreting some online makeup tutorials and Martinez, who isn’t deaf herself, realized that a lot of beauty videos on YouTube and Instagram aren’t easily accessible to non-hearing people.

Many tutorials don’t have captions and even when they do, as some deaf people point out, it can be annoying to have to read subtitles and watch the makeup demonstration at the same time.

“Putting myself in that individual’s shoes, I realized that I should create content that would be accessible to her, and millions of other men and women in the community,” Martinez told TODAY Style.

So the beauty vlogger, who lives in New York City, began posting ASL makeup and skin-care tutorials, hoping they would appeal anyone who had ever felt excluded by audio-only beauty content.

When some of her videos began to go viral, Martinez was overwhelmed by the outpouring of supportive comments.

“(I) personally came from a deaf heritage background and grew up with ASL my entire life and now I work with deaf children,” a fan wrote on one of Martinez's sign language tutorials on Instagram. “It's so inspiring to see your videos because I love makeup and the deaf community is a huge part of my life!”

“Omg you’re literally my favorite person to watch,” another fan gushed. “(One), because I don’t have to read the subtitles to understand and (two), your tips are actually useful.”

Martinez also showed the videos to deaf people she knew personally through school, and she got to see the impact of her project firsthand.

“Their faces lit up, or they started to cry when they saw that I was signing in the videos,” she told TODAY Style. “They didn’t really have that kind of connection sometimes when using media in general, or turning on the TV.”

Major beauty brands have also taken note of Martinez’s inspiring Instagram account, and companies including MAC Cosmetics, Urban Decay and Anastasia Beverly Hills often send her products to review.

Martinez is now applying to graduate school to study audiology, and in the meantime, she will continue to improve her signing skills as she posts new ASL videos.

She admits she “never expected” her tutorials to take off like they have, and she says she is thrilled that her videos are helping non-hearing people feel included.

“It really does make me happy,” she said. “At the end of the day, I want to see more individuals from the (deaf) community being integrated in the hearing world.”

Martinez also hopes her videos send a message to people without a hearing difference. She wants to remind them that plenty of deaf people — just like plenty of hearing people — are really into makeup tutorials and beauty product reviews.

“There are millions of people in the world who are deaf or who have a hearing dysfunction,” she said. “They don’t want to be seen as somebody who has a disability … they’re just regular human beings.”