Geoff Akins sees things others don't.
The Newport Beach visual arts entrepreneur, who co-founded advertising agency AkinsParker 10 years ago, has been the creative force behind campaigns for brands like Toyota Racing Development, Tiger Woods Foundation and Lexus F-Sport.
Akins is profoundly deaf. But he says he can sense what clients and audiences are feeling and translate that into his work. He's adept at picking up on a client's actions in subtle visual traits.
"My hearing impairment makes me uniquely skilled at some things as well," he said. "For example, I'm pretty in tune with body language and unspoken communication, especially interpersonal communication."
According to research at UC Davis and UC Irvine, deaf people are quicker at recognizing and interpreting body language than those who can hear.
David Corina, professor in the UC Davis Department of Linguistics and Center for Mind and Brain and graduate student Michael Grosvald, now a post-doctoral scholar at UCI, measured the response times of deaf and hearing people to a series of video clips showing people making American Sign Language signs or "non language" gestures, such as stroking the chin.
"The real surprise was that deaf people were about 100 milliseconds faster at recognizing non-language gestures than were hearing people," said Corina, whose work was published in the 2012 journal Cognition.