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Marlee Matlin Still Listens to Her iPod

Actress Marlee Matlin has been deaf since she was 18 months old. That doesn't mean she's not a gadget hound. In fact, just the opposite. This Academy Award-winning actress loves her BlackBerry and even gets to listen to Billy Joel on her iPod.

Matlin won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her role in 'Children of a Lesser God'. She also has a solid list of Emmys for roles in 'Seinfeld', 'Picket Fences', 'The Practice', and 'Law and Order: SVU'. She debuted her first novel, 'Deaf Child Crossing', which Booklist calls a "sensitive depiction of childhood friendship with its fragility, jealousies, and joys." Most recently, her book "Leading Ladies" is making the rounds in reading groups with much acclaim.

She won't tell us if she wrote it on a Mac or a PC, though.
What gadgets do you always bring with you to the set (for down-time?)
I had gadgets before gadgets were chic. That's because the gadgets are indispensable for someone who is deaf like me. I cannot live without my BlackBerry. It's my email, cell phone, text messager, date book, address book and web browser. For someone on the go and for someone for whom the cell phone is not convenient, the BlackBerry meets all my needs and then some. I've got the fastest thumbs in town and I've even been guilty of texting while driving (at stoplights, mind you!).

What cell phone do you have right now and what do you love/hate about it?
The cell phone on my BlackBerry works great when I can use my speaker phone and my sign language interpreter. My interpreter signs what people are saying through the speaker phone and then I speak back. I've found it to be a great phone and haven't found any problems with it. I couldn't live without it particularly when it comes to talking with my husband and kids while I'm on the road.

Who's the last person you sent a text message to and what was it about?
My husband. "How are the kids doing?"

Where do you go (site or service) pretty much every time you get online?
AOL is my main portal. First I read emails, then I check my kids' progress at school via their school web sites. Then it's time for news. I read the main Hollywood news and gossip sites -,

What annoys you most about your iPod, cell phone, or laptop (or any other gadget)?
That when ever any of them crash, I can't figure out a) why b) how to get them back up and running. It seemed when we were kids that TV's never crashed. You just turned them off an on. Now it's all about "Ctrl-Alt-Delete" or something like that. My video phone often has poor reception and that's probably because my cable modem just doesn't move fast enough. It's all annoying but part of living in a gadget filled world, I guess.

Name one thing you wish your iPod/cellphone/laptop (any gadget) could do that it doesn't do now?
Provide closed captioning. With streaming media becoming the new way to view TV and films, it's amazing to me that there is NO closed captioning available for deaf and hard of hearing viewers. With 26 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the US, I think this is a TRAVESTY. Why isn't anything being done about it???!!??

Also, why don't our cell phones allow for live video calls like the cell phones in Europe have? I would love to be able to use my cell phone to make a video call to my husband, kids or friends but the cell phones here can't do that yet. But people in Europe can and have been doing it for years. What gives AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon??

What upcoming gadget can you not wait to get your hands on?
A cell phone that will pick up my kids from school when I'm running late, put them in their car seats and deliver them home safely. LOL. Actually, I wouldn't mind a pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones. I've tried my business partner's headphones and with my hearing aids on, I can hear a great deal of music that I couldn't hear with conventional headphones. Maybe Santa will bring me some.

I also wouldn't mind a BlackBerry Curve. I'm dying for a BlackBerry with a camera so I can take pictures of the kids. And can I get a video phone that is portable and not tethered to the cable modem? It would be great to talk and SEE my kids while on the road and I'm amazed that cell phones that do this have been around for years in Europe but not in the US.

You're stranded on a desert island: What gadget do you bring? (Give reason why.)
Are you kidding? The BlackBerry. But first I'd make sure there was coverage! Ha!

What's the most-played song or artist on your iPod?
Yeah, I know you think I'm deaf and can't hear anything but actually I do hear some and the artist I hear very well is Billy Joel. I LOVE him and have even performed with him on Sesame Street and at the Super Bowl. I listen to "My Life" and "Movin' Out" incessantly.

Blackberry, Sidekick, or Treo?
BlackBerry. I started with the Sidekick but didn't find it served my email needs well enough. My business partner used the Treo for years but finally got so frustrated with it constantly freezing and it's inability to hold a charge for longer than a day that he switched over to BlackBerry. Now we BlackBerry chat all day and it's great. It's a perfect "cell phone" for deaf people and something I couldn't live without.

Are you getting an iPhone-if so, why?
From what I've heard, the Instant Message chat doesn't work well on an iPhone. Plus I need a hard keyboard and not the screen version that's on the iPhone. I need to feel the click of pressing on a key board.

What's the longest time you've ever spent playing a video game in one sitting and what game was it?
Ms. Pac Man at Sammy Davis Jr's house back in 1988. It was me, my business partner and Lucille Ball. Isn't that wild? Since then I've fallen way behind in video games. But I'm not really a fan of them. I said to people that my husband and I don't really want our kids to have them either because we've observed that video games don't allow kids to interact with life in realistic fashion. Books and DVD's do the same, but something about a video game seems to numb kids to reality. But that's Marlee the Mom speaking, so don't take me as the final word on that. Just know if you ever come to my house, you won't find any video games!

Do you use/have a Mac or PC? Why?
I have both! I want all my bases covered. PC for word processing and most major computer applications and Mac for photo storage and film editing and other media.

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