NAD Hosts Fourth Breakthrough Awards Gala

On October 25, 2023, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) hosted its fourth Breakthrough Awards Gala in Los Angeles, California to celebrate breakthroughs in the media, arts and technology. This event promotes accomplishments of Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, Hard of Hearing, and Late-Deafened actors and artists and to recognize those who have paved the way for these actors and artists. With our deep appreciation for their time and talents, Marlee Matlin and Alexis Kashar graciously volunteered as both Co-Chairs and Emcees for the event.

The Breakthrough Awards Gala invited industry representatives from Hollywood and media as well the arts and technology sectors to elevate awareness of the talents of these fabulous actors and artists from our communities, and to create more opportunities. Attendees included major media and technology companies, television and movie executives, directors, producers, writers, agents, and casting professionals. Also invited were actors, writers, producers, directors, and artists from our communities who were able to meet with these industry representatives with the hope of creating new content that includes better framing of our stories.

We gave 10 awards to distinguished individuals to showcase the importance of authentic inclusion of our deaf communities and to recognize them for their trailblazing work in the entertainment, arts, and technology industry that made it possible for Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, Hard of Hearing, and Late-Deafened artists and supporting cast to have an impactful presence on screen and behind the camera:

  • Linda Bove, Legacy Breakthrough Award
  • Tim Cook | Apple, Access Breakthrough Award
  • Howard Gordon, Empowerment Breakthrough Award
  • Sian Heder, Creative Breakthrough Award
  • Alexis Kashar, Entrepreneur Breakthrough Award
  • Chella Man, Awareness Breakthrough Award
  • Christine Sun Kim, Innovative Breakthrough Award
  • Troy Kotsur, Artistic Breakthrough Award
  • John Maucere, Matlin Impact Award
  • Lauren Ridloff, Visibility Breakthrough Award

The NAD thanks all who attended and is especially grateful to our sponsors, including many from the industry, for making this event a huge success:


  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Sorenson


  • Comcast
  • Love Sign – RoseBYANDER
  • The Sign Language Company
  • Waymo


  • National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID/RIT)
  • ZP Better Together


  • Amazon
  • Fish & Richardson
  • Nagish
  • Netflix
  • Paramount
  • Sony