This will likely be one of my mottos until I’m old and dead. Technology improves by the day, and with that comes more access to social media, more access to information and more access to representation. No longer does one have to live in a world thinking that they are alone.
The deaf community is slowly, but surely, gaining the traction they deserve in media.
“A Quiet Place,” directed by John Krasinski, will forever serve as an example to follow, especially for the deaf community. After a global attack by mysterious sound-reliant creatures, a family relies upon sign language to communicate with each other. All of the members of the family — except for one — are able to hear and speak, but doing so will put them in severe danger.
Real-life couple Krasinski and Emily Blunt star as protective parents who are trying their best with what they have, and they have two kids named Regan and Marcus.
Regan is deaf in the film and is played by a deaf actress named Millicent Simmonds. Her casting was intentional; Krasinski wanted someone who didn’t have to pretend they were deaf. Simmonds especially made a big impact for Krasinski, as she enthusiastically taught the cast sign language during her audition.
Not only does this movie bring sign language to the forefront of movie-goers’ minds, but it also shows that being deaf is not necessarily that unusual of a thing. It’s not a handicap.
This year’s Academy Awards also featured a young deaf actress by the name of Maisie Sly in the award-winning short film, “The Silent Child.” In this film, a family seeks someone to coach Libby (Sly) for her speaking. Joanne (Rachel Shenton) quickly learns that the reason that Libby is not speaking with her family is that she’s deaf and has no concept of the spoken word.
Over a few months, Joanne works with Libby and teaches her sign language, which allows her to communicate in a way that Libby had not known previously. Frustrated with the “lack of normalcy” displayed by Libby, her mother decided that she could no longer see Joanne, therefore limiting her communication with the outside world.
The film doubly served as a short film and public service announcement, normalizing the idea of deaf children learning sign language, and criticizing the idea of “normal” ways of speaking.
While those who are deaf are not fully represented and integrated into media, these two recent films have done a lot for the deaf community. It seems as though directors are finally realizing the true potential of deaf actresses and actors – not as a handicap, and not as someone to make fun of, but as an asset.