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? 

Write letters, make phone calls, and use social media to contact television and movie production companies. Let them know that they should connect with this large and growing audience and add hearing impaired characters to their storylines.


Josephine "Joey" Lucas is a fictional character on The West Wing, a U.S. television serial drama about the inner workings of the White House that ran from 1999 to 2006. Portrayed by actress Marlee Martin, Joey is a successful political expert who happens to have a severe hearing impairment and uses an interpreter.

Her hearing impairment is acknowledged in the show, but it never becomes her defining trait or characteristic. Her character shows how a hearing impairment does not need to prevent one from leading a successful life.

More recently, the film Sound of Metal (2019) tells the story of a drummer in a heavy metal band whose life is turned upside-down when he starts to lose his hearing. The film, which won two Oscars in 2021, received a mixed reaction from the hearing loss community - but it certainly put the issue in the spotlight. 

Potential impact

Television and movies play a role in both creating and reinforcing social norms. Television shows have long influenced how individuals view themselves, society, 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 quality of life or aspirations.