Books and films that raise deaf awareness


Looking for a winter read or a good film for a cozy evening indoors? You’ve come to the right place – the EASIER consortium has some recommendations.

There’s something magical about watching the seasons change from the comfort of a cozy armchair with a good book in hand. As the winter approaches, we asked the EASIER consortium members to recommend books and films that will help you raise your Deaf awareness while also providing entertainment during the long winter evenings. With top picks from the EUD, Athena Research Center, Martel Innovate, the University of Hamburg, and Radboud University, there’s something to suit every agenda. Dive in and enjoy deepening your knowledge about Deaf culture. 


The Stranger (Claudia Durastanti)
The Stranger is an extraordinary novel about silence – the silence of deafness, the silence of an immigrant – and how it can be transformed by the love of language.

An insightful interview with Claudia Durastanti about The Stranger at the Crossing Border festival 2020 can be watched here.

Reading between the signs (Anna Mindess)
Reading between the signs provides a new perspective on American Deaf culture, a unique culture that is not widely understood. With the collaboration of three distinguished Deaf consultants, Anna Mindess explores the implications of cultural differences at the intersection of the Deaf and hearing worlds. The book is a valuable resource for students and interpreters, used in interpreter training programs worldwide.

I’ll scream later (Marlee Matlin)
In I’ll Scream Later, Marlee Matlin takes readers on the frank and touching journey of her life, from the frightening loss of her hearing at eighteen months old to the highs and lows of Hollywood, her battles with addiction, and the unexpected challenges of being thrust into the spotlight as an emissary for the deaf community.

Sounds like home (Mary Herring Wright)
Mary Herring Wright’s memoir adds an important dimension to the current literature in that it is a story by and about an African American deaf child who recounts her experiences growing up as a deaf person in Iron Mine, North Carolina, from the 1920s through the 1940s. Her story is unique and historically significant because it provides valuable descriptive information about the faculty and staff of the North Carolina school for Black deaf and blind students from the perspectives of students and teachers.

Seeing Voices (Oliver Sacks)
Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf is a book covering a variety of topics in deaf studies, including sign language, the neurology of deafness, the history of the treatment of deaf Americans, and the linguistic and social challenges facing the American Deaf community. It also contains an eyewitness account of the 1988 student protest at Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts college for deaf and hard of hearing people in the world.

I had never thought about what it might mean to be deaf, to be deprived of language, or to have a remarkable language (and community and culture) of one’s own. Up to this point, I had mostly thought and written about the problems of individuals–here I was to encounter an entire community,” Oliver Sacks on Seeing Voices


The silent child (short film, available on YouTube)
Gorgeously shot and perfectly performed, the movie delivers an emotional wallop that many features six times its length never achieve.” – The New York Times

Deaf Child (Doof Kind)
A touching narrative of the hearing filmmaker and his deaf son, showing what it was like to grow up as a deaf child in the 1990s. In De Ronde’s opinion, Tobias’s late mother’s remark best sums up the film, “Well, the hearing’s never going to work, but being deaf can be fun too.”

Audible (available on Netflix)
Audible is a cinematic and immersive coming-of-age film documenting the journey of Maryland School for the Deaf high school athlete Amaree McKenstry-Hall. Amaree and his closest friends face the pressures of the senior year while grappling with the realities of venturing off into a hearing world. They take out their frustrations on the football field as they battle to protect an unprecedented winning streak while coming to terms with the tragic loss of a close friend. This is a story about kids who stand up to adversity and demand to be heard. They face conflict but approach the future with hope – shouting to the world that they not only exist but most of all matter.

De Doven (VPRO Episode of a TV documentary series, in Dutch)
This documentary series looks at subcultures in the Netherlands as if the presenter were an anthropologist. This episode about deaf people was widely appreciated by the Dutch Deaf community for showing the diversity in it.

Feel the Beat (available on Netflix)
In this comedy-drama film, a Deaf girl is studying dancing despite the skepticism of her trainer.

Deaf U (available on Netflix)
Deaf U is an American reality television series that follows a group of deaf and hard of hearing students who attend Gallaudet University. Among the series’ executive producers is a deaf activist, model, and actor Nyle DiMarco, according to whom, the goal of the series is “to show deaf people as humans from all walks of life”.

Switched at birth
Switched at Birth is an American teen/family drama that revolves around two teenagers who discover they were accidentally switched at birth. They grew up in very different environments: one in an affluent suburb with two parents and a brother and the other in a working-class neighborhood with a single mother. According to ABC Family, it is “the first mainstream television series to have multiple deaf and hard-of-hearing series regulars and scenes shot entirely in American Sign Language.”

You may also be interested in: d/Deaf actors who prove that deafness does not stand in the way of a successful acting career

Ted Talks 

The enchanting music of sign language (Christine Sun Kim)
Marvelous demonstration/discussion of how sign languages differ from spoken languages. With written captions and an English language voiceover.

Deaf and proud (Irisa Daphne MacAulay and Kathleen Wood)
Great presentation about the importance of Deaf Education.

How technology has changed what it’s like to be deaf (Rebecca Knill)
Complete silence is very addictive,” says Rebecca Knill, a writer who has cochlear implants that enable her to hear. In this humorous and insightful talk, she explores the evolution of assistive listening technology, the outdated way people respond to deafness, and how we can shift our cultural understanding of the ability to build a more inclusive world. “Technology has come so far,” Knill says, “our mindset just needs to catch up.”

Why we need to make education more accessible to the deaf (Nyle DiMarco)
Deaf model and activist Nyle DiMarco is often asked whether he wishes he could hear. His answer? “I’ve never wished that because I love who I am.” In this personal talk, he emphasizes the connection between education and self-esteem, arguing why we need more accessible education for the deaf.

Navigating deafness in a hearing world (Rachel Kolb)
In the USA, two-thirds of hearing-impaired people do not complete high school. In this talk, Rachel Kolb (who was born profoundly deaf) shows what is possible through family support and self-belief and proves that what is assumed about you and what you can achieve don’t always match up.

I’m deaf, but we can still talk (Rebekah Afari)
How can we break down the barriers that hold deaf people back? In a powerful talk signed in British Sign Language, Rebekah Afari shares her experience of growing up deaf in a world created for hearing people and calls on us all to tear down the barriers to inclusion together and make her dream of equal opportunities for deaf and hearing people a reality.

If you’re a member of the extended EASIER community and have other suggestions, let us know and we’ll post an update.
EASIER_Books and films that raise deaf awareness
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