Put Hearing Loss On the Screen

Petition production companies to put more hearing impaired characters on TV and in the movies!

Idea At A Glance

Hearing loss is a part of life for millions of people around the world. Why is it largely absent from television and movie plots? 

Your organization can inspire people to write letters and make phone calls to television and movie production companies. This can turn into a broad movement to tell production companies that they should connect with this audience and add hearing impaired characters to their storylines.

Inspiration

Switched at Birth

In the United States, the teen soap opera Switched At Birth explores the communication gap between persons with hearing loss and those without hearing loss. The show follows the lives of two teenage girls who discovered they were switched at birth. One of them is deaf, and the other one is not.

Throughout the show, deaf and hard of hearing characters use American Sign Language to communicate with each other. Emily Nussbaum, writing about the show in The New Yorker states that the sign language scenes make Switched at Birth "a show that can't be skimmed: in extended scenes among deaf characters, whole minutes elapse, submerging the audience in a world that feels intimate and alive, rich with grimaces, grins, and other physical nuances we'd usually ignore."

Potential Impact

Television and movies play a role in both creating and reinforcing social norms. Television shows, for example, have long influenced how individuals view the family structure, marriage, and relationships.

Including a hearing impaired character on a TV soap opera, a TV show, or a movie can potentially raise broad public awareness of hearing loss. It would present hearing loss as a normal part of life; an issue that can be effectively addressed and not necessarily limit one's life quality, aspirations, and career.

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