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Deaf Culture and Hearing Aids in the Media: 7 Movies and TV Shows with Deaf Characters

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    Switched at Birth

    An American television show on ABC family, Switched at Birth follows the story of two teenagers switched in the hospital at birth. Bay Kennish lives with her parents in a wealthy suburb of Kansas City, while Daphne Vasquez, who lost her hearing because of bacterial meningitis, lives with her mother and grandmother in a low-income neighborhood. When the two families meet, the parents struggle to find an acceptable balance of influence over their biological children, while Bay and Daphne wrestle with their identities.

    Mr. Holland’s Opus

    An American drama film starring Richard Dreyfuss, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Glenn Holland, Mr. Holland’s Opus portrays Mr. Holland’s life as a music teacher and father struggling to accept his deaf son. The film follows his life through three decades, showing how he ultimately embraces his son’s deafness by finding ways for deaf children to understand music.

    Sound and Fury

    A documentary about an extended family with deaf family members spanning three generations, Sound and Fury follows them through their struggle of deciding whether to give their children cochlear implants. While they want their children to hear, they fear how their kids will struggle with their deaf identity and possibly reject deaf culture. An Academy Award nominee for best documentary feature, Sound and Fury relates to the struggles of families with deaf family members striving to strike a balance between the deaf and hearing worlds.

    Love is Never Silent

    This movie revolves around a hearing woman with deaf parents during the Depression and post-Depression era. It explores her role as the sole bridge between the hearing and deaf worlds for her parents and the positive and negatives ways it impacts her life.

    Through Deaf Eyes

    A PBS documentary exploring 200 years of American deaf culture, Through Deaf Eyes provides first person accounts of the conflicts, prejudices, and struggles members of the deaf community have faced throughout the centuries. It features interviews with prominent deaf advocates, such as Marlee Matlin, and takes a straightforward approach towards examining the history and subtleties of deaf life in America.

    The Hammer

    The most recently released movie on this list and based on a true story, The Hammer follows Matt Hamil’s journey to becoming the first-ever deaf wrestler to win the National Collegiate Wrestling Championships. Although he’s deaf, Matt finds himself an outsider to the deaf community because of his upbringing around those who can hear. His determination allows him to overcome his perceived disability and become the collegiate wrestling champion.

    And Your Name is Jonah

    This movie follows a couple and their son through their realization of his misdiagnosis as mentally retarded. After discovering that Jonah is deaf instead of non-verbally autistic, his parents get him hearing aids to help him learn how to hear and speak. Jonah’s family tries their best to connect and communicate with him, learning the struggles Jonah experiences as a deaf child living in a hearing world.

    These are only some of many great movies regarding deaf culture or hearing aids. If you know or would recommend any more, please comment below!

by Diana Ruan

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