How deaf 'DWTS' contestant Nyle DiMarco impressed judges

DiMarco became the first deaf male contestant to compete on 'Dancing.' Judges called him 'terrific' and 'unbelievable' after he performed with professional dancer Peta Murgatroyd.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Nyle DiMarco arrives at the BAFTA Awards Season Tea Party in 2016.

Season 22 of ABC's reality dancing competition "Dancing With the Stars" includes the program's first deaf male contestant, Nyle DiMarco.

[Editor's note: The original version of this story misidentified DiMarco as the first deaf contestant on "Dancing With the Stars."]

Mr. DiMarco previously competed on and won the reality program "America's Next Top Model" and was also the first deaf contestant on that program. He won the competition last year. 

On "Dancing," DiMarco is competing with professional dancer Peta Murgatroyd. Other celebrity contestants include Jodie Sweetin of "Fuller House," Pittsburgh Steelers player Antonio Brown, former football player Doug Flutie, Fox News journalist Geraldo Rivera, Ginger Zee of "Good Morning America," actress Marla Maples, and "The O.C." actress Mischa Barton. 

This season also includes the return of judge Len Goodman, who did not participate in the fall 2015 season of the program. Former judge and dancer Julianne Hough has departed the show. 

DiMarco impressed the judges during the first episode of the show, during which he performed a cha-cha with Murgatroyd. Along with Zee and her partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Boyz II men singer Wanya Morris and dancer Lindsey Arnold, DiMarco and Murgatroyd got the highest scores of the night. (All three pairs received a score of 23 out of 30 from the judges.) 

"Unbelievable," judge Bruno Tonioli said after DiMarco and Murgatroyd performed, while Mr. Goodman told the pair, “Terrific … It just got better and better.” 

DiMarco is an honorary spokesman for Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids and is also a creative collaborator and signer for the app The ASL App, which helps users learn American Sign Language and which was created by those who are deaf and use sign language.

He discussed his method of performing with Murgatroyd with People Magazine. “She's dancing to the music, I just follow her with my eyes,” DiMarco said. “…I'm ready to take the world by storm and have them look at me and say, 'Deaf people can dance.’”

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