Discuss Through Deaf Eyes

Discuss the video Through Deaf Eyes by adding a comment to this post. Due 9 Nov 2010.

You’ll find lots of good info at the PBS site including a transcript and discussion guide .

To help guide the discussion, consider these questions:

  1. Did your perceptions of deafness change watching this story?
  2. What segments did you like best? Feel free to use the transcript to help you remember them.
  3. Were you surprised that the students took over the school? That they hot wired the buses?

Feel free to include anything else that interested or challenged you.

23 Responses to “Discuss Through Deaf Eyes”

  1. dallara says:

    This video really changed my perceptions of deafness! It really emphasized the fact that the deaf often form their own culture within a larger society, much like many other minority groups in America today. For example, the video mentions that different deaf people use sign language differently, sometimes with their own dialects. For example, black deaf people might sign certain words differently than white deaf people. The video also made me realize that the deaf can use lipreading as well as sign language. I really liked the segments that talked about the technology which eventually came to the advantage of the deaf people during the 20th century (such as the teletypewriter and cochlear implants). I really liked the scene where the students at Gallaudet University shut down the school and hot wired the buses in order to try to get a deaf president elected. Given the sheer determination and ability of the deaf community, it hardly surprises me that they did this!

  2. AlexandraA says:

    This video did change my perception of deafness- I had no idea of the struggles they faced back in the 1900s- its crazy that people did not accept sign language. To me, if there’s an easy way for people to communicate then it should be encouraged. I just don’t understand how people with complete deafness even communicated before signing was acceptable. I really enjoyed watching them fight for their rights though- I thought it was inspiring how as students they fought their school board and their president for what they thought was fair. I did feel slightly bad for the president at the time though- I doubt she meant to offend the students, she just happened to be appointed at the wrong time. However, the students did what was best for them, and it worked out in the end.

  3. Erin says:

    I feel like my perception of deafness only changed slightly from watching this movie. I have already gained such a better understanding of deafness from watching the other videos in class, but this one shed new light on how deafness is really a culture in and of itself. Something I learned is that, like most languages, sign language has different dialects. For example, black people tend to use different words and body language than white people.

    I mostly enjoyed the segments of the movie which focused on the different type of adaptive technology. I had no idea that most of this technology existed.

    I would say that I was somewhat surprised by the extent to which the students at Gallaudet University went to get a deaf President elected. I never would have imagined people getting so upset over this type of issue, but then again, I’m not in their position. However, it’s not like this is the first protest of this type. People all throughout history have rebelled against decisions made by authority, such as segregation laws. It just surprised me to see a protest of this magnitude from such a small group of people.

  4. LoganG says:

    I enjoyed watching Through Deaf Eyes because it did change my perception of deaf people. I guess I have always assumed that simply because people can talk, they can hear; however, this movie proved me to be wrong. At one point in the video, the deaf students participating in the riot were chanting, which I found strange. But once again, simply because they are deaf, shouldn’t preclude them from vocalizing.

    Secondly, I was totally blown away by the deaf musicians. I had categorically assumed that deaf people existing outside the realm of music, but in fact, deaf people enjoy rhythm and expressing themselves to music through sign, just as hearing people do.

    Although I had no reason to be surprised the deaf students took over their school, my own ignorance subconsciously thinks that because they cant hear, they for some reason cant stick up for themselves, cant go against what hearing people have decided, or riot.

  5. KristinA says:

    This movie was a true inspiration to me. What they got accomplished despite setbacks was amazing. Most impressively, I also was surprised by the deaf musicians. It’s not only the fact that musicians could play, it’s also the fact that the deaf people really enjoyed listening (well, feeling the vibrations) to the music. They were having a legitimate concert even though they can’t hear anything!

    I feel as though the deaf’s struggle throughout history is representative of everyone with disabilities’ struggles that are occurring now. The only difference is that people with the more serious disabilities (blindness, loss of motor control, etc) do not have the capability of standing up for themselves all of the time. That’s why it is important for us to do our part for them. They are probably feeling the exact same way that the deaf people felt. It truly is no different.

  6. klomax says:

    I found it very interesting that Alexander Graham Bell did not like sign language. He wanted to teach deaf people how to speak, and he did not want them to marry each other because he was scared that deafness would spread. However, I realize now, after watching “Through Deaf Eyes,” more than ever, that deaf people are very dedicated to their culture. They would feel more comfortable marrying someone that understands them and the struggles they go through. I also found it very interesting that some people who are deaf do not like to speak because others assume they can hear them. I never really thought of it like that, but it makes sense. I would expect them to be able to hear me if they were speaking clear to me. It is so ironic that in years past people signed low because they were embarrassed to be deaf, but now people chose signing over speaking. I really enjoyed the section on the protests over getting a deaf principal or hearing principal. It was nice to see that 93% of the nation supported the deaf students’ protest. I am glad that the school ending up hiring a deaf principal and will not ever resort back to a hearing one. This video really made me understand how much deaf people love and respect their culture. Today, I was driving on the highway and saw a man with a bumber sticker that said “DEAF.” Before watching this video I would not have understood why he had it, but I know now that he is proud of his culture.

  7. MattK says:

    This video was not as eye opening or inspiring to me as is seems others feel. Through all of the videos about deafness we have watched, the main point I have taken away is that deaf people feel they are different, but not less. This is why I really don’t feel any extra sense of pride or fulfillment for deaf people when they accomplish great feats. As signed in the film by King Jordan, a former president of Gallaudet University, “When you talk to people who can hear and you ask them what do you think it would be like to be a deaf person? Then all of their thinking is well, I couldn’t do this. Can’t, can’t, can’t, can’t, can’t. They would start listing all the things they can’t do. And I don’t think like that. Deaf people don’t think like that. We think about what we can do.” As far as the deaf community gaining their deaf president at Gallaudet University, it is no surprise to me that they succeeded. There is no question that a large group of hard-headed angry people has power, regardless of any physical characteristics the people have.

    The only qualm I have with the movie however (and this pertains to all the movies about deafness) is that a large number of deaf people claim that if they had the opportunity to hear, no strings attached, they wouldn’t take it. I understand that I have not been through what they have been through in life, but from my perspective it seems as though they are being hard headed. Of all the cases of people getting Cochlear implants we have witnessed, I can’t recall one person who wasn’t happy with the outcome regardless of their result; and Cochlear implants are very much “strings attached”. I realize that those who opt for the surgery go into it with a desire to hear (unlike those who swear they wouldn’t want a cure); but based on results, I can’t help but feel that if everyone who “doesn’t want to be cured” could hear for 10 minutes, most would have a hard time giving it back up.

  8. hunterC says:

    I think that, rather than change my perception of deafness, this movie expanded it. In some of the past movies, we saw the passion of the deaf community and we continued to see it in this one, however, unlike some of the other movies, this movie shows more of the objective facts. Where it could be said “Sound and Fury” had a theme of: “I’M DEAF, I’M EQUAL, I’M PROUD TO BE ME!”, “Through Deaf Eyes” represented the, “I’m deaf and I’m proud to be deaf and here’s why…” perspective. I’m glad “Through Deaf Eyes” strayed from the passion of the deaf community and choose to teach about it instead. I was particularly fascinated by the deaf musicians. It was said somewhere in one of the movies that deaf people would never be able to listen to and appreciate music and I had assumed it was true and never given it much thought. The deaf musicians absolutely blew that statement away. They had as much talent and appreciation for music as I have seen in any hearing musician.

    “Through Deaf Eyes” just furthered my opinion that though deaf people are “disadvantaged” by hearing people’s standards, hearing people may be disadvantaged by deaf people’s standards. The extra things deaf people must do to fit in a hearing world may well prepare them for certain circumstances better than a hearing person would be. These movies on deaf culture reinforce the idea that words like “normal”, “equal”, and “handicapped” are all in the eye of the beholder.

  9. allenak says:

    Like some of the other people, I didn’t feel like this movie changed my perception on deafness as much as some of the other movies did. It didn’t really surprise me that the deaf students had taken over the school or hotwired a bus. One of the interviewees noted that there would be outrage if there was a white president at a historically black college and I agree. I believe a deaf president is best able to represent the needs of the deaf students.

    Another thing that surprised me was the reactions towards Marlee Matlin, from both the Deaf community and the hearing world. I think it is great that “Children of a Lesser God” increased awareness for deafness as a whole. A professor at one of the universities noted that the enrollment in many ASL classes increased dramatically after the movie was created. I think it was also incredibly interesting how many people in the Deaf community were appalled that Marlee Matlin would choose to speak at the awards ceremony. However, I think Marlee Matlin made the right choice to speak because she helped to bridge the gap between the hearing and the speaking world. Someone had noted that they chose not to speak because then people would think that they oculd hear. We had discussed in class how communication was helpful no matter what kind of adaptations are needed. If a child can communicate by signing, then all resources should be given to him so he can fully cultivate his communication skills. I think the same is true for Matlin’s use of language. If she can communicate with the world by speaking, then she should be applauded for increasing her communication skills. “Children of a Lesser God” was an innovative film that helped bring people into the Deaf world. However, Marlee Matlin using speech helped people relate to her even more. This is a “win-win” situation for both the Deaf and hearing worlds.

  10. Philip Brooks says:

    By the points provided in this film, I think it just makes a greater point for sign language to be taught and discussed form of language in secondary and up schools, just as most every other language is. The biggest thing that really enhanced my view on this was the different dialects that I had no idea existed. I assumed that because there were only so many different movements one could make with their hands or body, that adding even more to that to create different dialects/tones would be near impossible. I thought it was extremely interesting to hear/see how the african-american woman described the difference in how a african-american woman may say “Hey Girl!” as opposed to how a white woman may. Walking around our communities today, there is much a chance that you could run into someone that would speak sign, if not a greater chance, as compared to some of the lesser taught languages taught at the University and high school level.
    I was also intrigued to watch the piece on the deaf musicians. While I do not completely understand to which the extent they receive or feel the music through the “Singing-signing” or the very loud drums/vibrations etc… I do not find it shocking that the deaf community has still try to satiate that part of their brain/intellect that was deprived from them in deafness. I do suspect that the effort needed to effectively play the guitar as a deaf person is extremely difficult as they must most likely have to work with someone to tune their skills/sound (though not as important as the vibrations it makes).
    I was not particularly surprised that the students took over the school/hot wired the bus. Frustration was clearly building, and just like any other group, they eventually were forced to result to action.

  11. WilliamL says:

    After watching The Sound and Fury, it left an impression to me that deaf and hearing are two completely different groups and are exclusive to each other; there is no middle ground and no interaction between deaf and hearing people. However, this video shows how hearing and deaf societies in fact have many things in common and co-exist in the world. Both groups have their language, culture, and pride.
    My favorite segment of the video is where Bernard Bragg signs a poem. His facial expression softens and is full of emotion. Even though there was no word, his fingers move so elegantly and fluidly when describing the moonlight and river. This reminds me the first time I really notice the beauty of sign language when I was at Disney World. The signer sign to the concerto played by the symphony. The power was incredible; the emotion and immersion in the music of the signer were just the same as the violin players. Just watching the signer signed was as moving as the sound.
    Usually when deafness is mentioned, people instinctively think of disability and inability to do things, forgetting that they have the same capability to do what hearing people can. Although I believe that deaf people are just as smart as hearing people are, I didn’t expect the students to hot wire the buses. That is quite extreme even if hearing students do that.

  12. BethanyB says:

    My perceptions of deafness did not really change due to the video. As others have said, we have already studied deaf culture. It did help me understand more why they have such a separate culture. Though deaf people do have what many would consider a disability, it does not impair most vital functions; however, deaf people were cast aside and discriminated against by hearing people, and attempts were made to force them into mainstream American culture as much as possible. This is similar to how foreign groups came together and formed their own smaller communities within America, with their own language and culture.

    I enjoyed the parts that gave the history of how Deaf Culture became separate, and especially the part about developing a telephone. The fact that Alexander Graham Bell had multiple deaf family members, yet was still so set against Deaf Culture, was astounding to me. I also enjoyed the work that deaf people put into creating their own telephone system in order to communicate and overcome the obstacles in their lives. The Deaf Bands were also very interesting to me, especially how they could take something most people would consider only for hearing people and adapt and feel it themselves in a different way.

    I wasn’t really surprised that the students took over the school and hotwired a bus; college students with a cause can get up to crazy stuff, and deaf students are no different in regard to passions and strong feelings. I was actually rather impressed that they managed to shut down the school for an entire week and forced the resignation of not only the new appointee but the head of the board as well; many groups would not have the patience and organization to do so. All in all, the movie was quite enjoyable, and helped emphasize that while Deaf Culture is separate, they are still subject to many of the same experiences as hearing people.

  13. BrookeD says:

    “Through Deaf Eyes” added to my understanding of the Deaf culture and way of life. Although I was not surprised by the protests put forth by the Deaf students at Gallaudet University, I felt proud and elated that they were able to stand up for their rights even with their deafness. I definitely would have supported the students at Gallaudet because I think it is important that a president of an organization represent the group in the best possible way. Obviously, a Deaf president would be the most relatable and representative leader for these students. Like many other minorities throughout history, by coming together to stand up for certain rights Deaf students were able to turn an unfortunate circumstance around.

    Aside from the protest at Gallaudet University, there were many other things throughout the film that I found to be quite interesting. It was awesome that they included the piece about the different dialects of sign. I never thought that a black and a white Deaf person would use sign differently, but now it makes sense that they would. Coming from two different racial cultures, it makes perfect sense that an African American and a Caucasian would sign using a different “voice” so to speak.

    When thinking back on the historical units of the film, I was very surprised that Alexander G. Bell did not want people to use sign language to communicate. He also did not want deaf people to marry, so that sign language/deafness would not spread. I personally feel that sign language is an awesome way for people-deaf or not-to communicate. Its fluid, silent, and would be universally understood.

    I was very impressed with the Deaf musicians. Whether it was the vibrations from the instruments or just the sign used for song, I was happy to see that they were able to incorporate and enjoy such a wonderful part of life.

    Lastly, I could not believe the number of people who said they wouldn’t want to be able to hear even if it was offered to them. I feel like that comes from stubbornness more so than a true passion for their culture. When given a cochlear implant, people did not reject it and wish not to hear the sounds of the world. Being able to hear would only increase their ability to communicate, not take away from their Deaf culture.

  14. HunterP says:

    My perception of deaf people was definitely changed when watching this story. I went to an elementary school with an excellent hearing impaired program and during my time there I had many interactions with the students in the program. However, these students were very young and had not developed speech, which led me to believe that because they couldn’t hear they would never pick up the ability to speak. This story showed me that this was not the case, but that many deaf people have amazing vocal capabilities despite never hearing the words coming out of their mouths. It completely blew me away that some could even sing and produce music. Beethoven’s Nightmare is a remarkable band, not because of the music they play, but the mere fact that they play music at all considering the fact that every band member is deaf. The musicians feel the vibrations of the sound made by the instuments and use the rhythm they feel in their bodies to play. This section had to be my favorite part in the movie because it showed the resilience of these individuals and of really the whole deaf community. This being said, I do not find it hard to believe the students at Gallaudet took over the university and hot wired the buses. Those students were fighting for much more than a deaf president, they were fighting for deaf equality all over the world and their effort and persistence made a difference for an entire population.

  15. StephenH says:

    Through Deaf Eyes was very powerful and moving, definitely changing the way I viewed deaf culture even further. The musicians were extremely gifted and proved that the inability to hear did NOT inhibit any action in life. The fact that they could play music based on vibrations proved that other senses really are heightened in situations where another sense is lacking. The students that took over the school were also very interesting. They took over the school in order to fight for much more than their deaf president. After watching this movie and the previous movies about deafness, I really have gained a phenomenal interest in deaf culture. Even though they do not communicate in the same ways we do, deaf people continue to show that they can still live life to the fullest.

  16. TylerD says:

    After watching this video, I do think that my perception of deafness did indeed change. With the last video, I think it would be safe to say that most of us sided with the hearing family who wanted the cochlear implants for their children so that they could have the option of being a part of both worlds. However this video showed a completely different side to being deaf and gave a much better background on many of the struggles that the deaf have been subjected to over the years. I found myself feeling much more sympathetic as the creation of deaf culture was described. As the multiple hardships were described by the different deaf people, it became evident why the deaf community has the sense of pride that they do. So after seeing this, I did think back to the previous video and did see at least a little bit why the deaf parents were so adamant about preserving their deaf status.
    Both the rally for a deaf president and the interviews with the deaf musicians were my favorite scenes simply because they were inspiring to watch. With the deaf students rallying for someone to represent them with the same disability, it became evident that deaf people were certainly capable of making changes in the world through mobilization. After thinking about it, it made sense why the students felt so strongly about having a deaf president for their college. After their goal was realized, it was awesome to see all the students signing to each other in celebration and realizing that they had finally won. The musicians were also interesting to learn about because they were capable of doing the same thing hearing people can do, just in a different way. Music can be difficult to understand and perform, so for someone who lacks the ability to hear sound whatsoever to play music was great to see.
    Finally, it did not surprise me to see the deaf students take over the school or hot wire the buses because they are still people who are quite capable of ascertaining the greatest way to make their cause known. They were adaptable and capable of changing the way others looked upon them through the use of mass mobilization and demonstration. After watching that segment, it made me wonder if I had ever judged a deaf person unfairly or assumed they were incapable of something simply because of their condition.

  17. jackie ivery says:

    “Through Deaf Eyes” made me realize that deaf people really have their own world. I always felt bad for deaf people because I would think about how hard it was for them to live in “our” world, when in reality, they are perfectly fine in their own world. This video definitely changed my perception on deafness. This story showed me that deaf people are very capable. They have the ability to learn and be great just like “typical” people. The only difference between “typical” people and a deaf person is that the deaf person gets things done in a different way.
    One part of the movie that stood out to me was when the students took over the school. This was so amazing to me! I found myself wondering how in the world could these deaf students do this? I had to remember that they are fully capable of standing up for what they want! Those students showed me that it does not matter whether you are deaf, blind, or typical, everyone deserves the best education possible.

  18. JohnW says:

    “Through Deaf Eyes” I would say definitely enhanced my perception of deaf people. I never had any thoughts that made me see deaf people as abnormal, I just knew that they couldn’t hear or speak. Well half of what I “knew” was proven wrong in this movie. There were plenty of deaf people that could speak, some with more clarity than others, but regardless their words could be interpreted. I don’t know how they do it because when I am listening to music very loud, I have no control over what I am saying because I can’t hear myself. Now these were the deaf people without the cochlear implants, that enhanced their abilities even more! But this brings me to another point that many deaf people said if they had the opportunity to hear that they wouldn’t take it. Well I think that is just their pride resulting from “struggle” that they go through to prove their equality to hearing people. The cochlear implants prove that when deaf people are given the opportunity to hear, they enjoy it. Overall, I think this movie helped people view deaf people in a different, more respective way.

  19. KatieC says:

    Through Deaf Eyes did change my perception of deafness a little bit; however, this video still strengthened the previous argument that I made after watching Sound and Fury. I feel even stronger about my previous argument, as this video revealed that children who receive cochlear implants are still a big part of the deaf community because the children are indeed still deaf. The video showed that children who receive the cochlear implant also still see themselves as deaf, and that perception was one of the main arguments made against the cochlear implant by the deaf community. While yes, this documentary did help contribute to my understanding of the deaf community as a whole, it still did not change my previous belief. However, I do now understand more about the bonds of the deaf community, and I see more of why the deaf feel so strongly about their community. That strength and bonding of the community I do see, but why you would want to limit your child to a more difficult life I still do not see.
    Overall, I was very impressed that the students were able to organize and succeed in taking over the school in order to get a deaf president. I cannot imagine succeeding in something like that, as I would be afraid that it would fail, not everyone would follow, I would be kicked out of school or even arrested, just for the school to go back to a hearing president.

  20. WillB says:

    After watching Through Deaf Eyes I have very mixed feelings about the deaf community and deaf culture. I never knew how much the deaf community had gone through during the course of history and how many sacrifices they have made throughout history. I think that the fact that people started to push for deaf schools to teach only speech and sound in the early 1900s is proof that people have always wanted to create a uniform society, a society in which the deaf could not easily fit into. Seeing all of the struggles that the deaf community has continuously gone through makes me a little angry at the rest of the world for trying to change them into the type of people the hearing world wants them to be. Things like changing deaf schools to not even teach sign language is ridiculous, if there is a way for people with some challenge to learn, they should be able to use that method to learn.
    Through deaf eyes further proved that society has always been discriminatory against people who are like everyone else. Watching the movie made me understand deaf culture a lot more, because after seeing all of the struggles the deaf community has gone through, it makes a lot of sense that they have come together and formed their own way of life. I think that all of the oppression the deaf community has faced throughout history facilitated the growth of deaf culture more than hindered it, because in the face of adversity people band together to get past it. Now that I know the struggles that the deaf community has faced for so long, I understand why the idea of deaf culture is so important, it is their identity, which still survives even after so many attempts to crush it. The deaf community is very proud of this, and rightfully so, and that is why they want to band together and show the world what they can do without being “changed” into the ideal citizen.

  21. EthanO says:

    “Through Dead Eyes” certainly changed my perceptions of deafness. Formerly, I was aware of deafness in the same way that I’m aware of Australia; I just knew it existed. Watching this video made me realize that deaf culture as it is known today didn’t just materialize out of nothing. I saw the struggles and hardships that dead people had to endure and persevere. My favorite section of the video was easily the campaign/protest for a deaf president of Gallaudet. Just as Americans opt to elect a native-born American to serve as president of the United States, the deaf patrons of Gallaudet were right to fight for an official representative of the student population. However, I was surprised that the students went to such great lengths to advocate their cause. Hot-wiring the buses was almost a little too extreme, but it’s hard for me to judge since I’ve never been in their position. I’m sure I would have agreed with their course of action if I’d been directly involved in the protest.

  22. AbelT says:

    Through Deaf Eyes reinforced my beliefs about the deaf society and also taught me about the history of Deaf people. It reinforced my belief that the deaf are a very proud and stubborn group. They believe deafness to not be a crutch although it hinders them from being a member of society completely. I didn’t like the fact that it took so long for the sign language to be accepted as a language. Although i can see where the earlier people thought without as much knowledge that we have that maybe learning sign language would hinder them from learning English. I also couldnt believe Alexander Graham Bell’s role in hindering the growth of Deaf culture. The creator of the telephone invented to increase communication would be the one to try and stop communication between Deaf people. The amount of people that said they wouldn’t change being deaf i believe is a product of the deaf culture. I believe that the deaf society truly believes that they are better off deaf than hearing. I disagree with this notion on the premise that being deaf really hinders most deaf people from being successful in a hearing world. The fact that they had to invent a new planet just to be separate from the hearing shows the importance of hearing in this world. I wasn’t surprised that the students hot wired the bus to support their cause because the deaf community is so proud that they would do anything to express their beliefs.

  23. cpowers9 says:

    The movie really did change my understanding of Deaf culture. Before watching it, I had no idea that sign language was ever discouraged in society and looked down upon. It surprised me that Alexander Graham Bell, a celebrated American, who was closely connected to the Deaf through his wife, was so against Deaf culture. I didn’t know about the various struggles that the Deaf overcame. I was unaware of the existence of Gallaudet, let alone the incredible protest against the election of a hearing President which played a role in the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    I also found it interesting that at one time, the use of sign language was prohibited in teaching Deaf children. It seems obviously counterproductive and yet it was the accepted belief that assimilating Deaf to the hearing world was the best way. Similarly, my grandmother’s first language is French and would speak in both English and French to my mother and her brothers. When my mother was in elementary school, her teacher told my grandmother that she should only speak English in the home because speaking both would only confuse the kids and hurt their development of English skills. Now, evidence suggests that learning two languages at a young age actually makes kids smarter.

    Another interesting part of the movie was how the Deaf themselves, were opposed to sign language at first and ashamed to use it in public. Perhaps this disapproval is comparable to the current resistance the Deaf community shows toward cochlear implants and one day cochlear implants will be an accepted aspect of Deaf culture.

    The film gave me a better understanding of Deaf culture and how important it is to the Deaf community. Its an entire history, not just a language and sharing a common disability.