Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in Movies and Television Shows

Lately, there seems to be a lot of deaf and hard of hearing people being showcased on American television shows.

It is refreshing to see deaf and hard of hearing people, especially signing deaf individuals, being portrayed as everyday people who happen to be deaf rather than as special and sweet, mute, naive, objects of pity, desperate to fit in and hear, sex maniacs, or as living in a "world of silence." Although, I don't doubt that there are plenty of pathetic, sweet, and naive deaf and hard of hearing people out there. Some of them are promiscuous and some would like to hear or be a part of general society, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I am just tired of seeing movies or television shows portraying deaf people as anything other than ordinary folks. I don't want to be thinking to myself, as I watch some show or movie with a deaf character in it, "I know, I know. You're deaf. Enough already!"

Below are two persons from recent 2011 television shows. I think both shows do a good job depicting deaf signing people in more positive and interesting ways.

Leon Lim on Work of Art 2

This is Leon Lim, a contestant on Bravo's Work of Art Season 2. He is from Malaysia whose artwork was selected for TIME Magazine's Person of the Year Edition. I personally like his public art installation piece, The Last Chairs (pictures below):

Photo from Leon Lim's website.
Photo from Leon Lim's website.

Thus far, I like how the fact that Leon is deaf is not focused on too much in Work of Art. He is seen signing when interviewed or when interacting with others, but you will hardly see the interpreter. While he does talk about growing up deaf and such it seems as if the show is more about Leon as an artist, which is how it should be. I do think it is interesting how there is one contestant who spoke for Leon a few times, trying to help with what I assume she thought were communication issues. I thought to myself, "Okay, girl, Leon can take care of himself. If he has a problem, I am sure he will say something." 

Sean Berdy on Switched at Birth

I like Sean Berdy's character, Emmett, on Switched at Birth. He is cool, confident, and smart. For the most part, there is not too much focus on his inability to hear, instead the wonderfully ridiculous teenage drama takes over.

Sean Berdy 15
Photo from Sean Berdy's website.


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