quick analysis of “Breaking Through the Silence” video

My friend Alejo sent me this video interviewing four students with varying amounts of deafness who attend the University of Michigan. Both of my parents are deaf and I grew up speaking ASL, so this is something I’m interested in. Watch the video:


Overall I think it’s really valuable to go and learn about people’s experiences by *asking them directly*, and listening what they have to say, and so the video is *spot on* in doing this.

I made a few quick comments which I’m posting here just to share quickly:

from the first 6 minutes i note that there is no ASL (everyone is speaking), and so this is drawing from a group of deaf people who have a different experience from most of the deaf folks i grew up around

 within the Deaf world there exist the following divides (which correlate only a little bit):
 “hard of hearing” versus “fully deaf” (this is a physiological distinction)
 and “oral” versus “signing” (this denotes how someone was educated)
 (but also reflects how a deaf person chooses to communicate)
 this video samples an apparent spectrum of physiological deafness but focuses only on “oral” deaf, or at least only portraying that aspect
 (i’m not all the way through yet)
 but neglecting to interview students who were signing — perhaps because there were no Deaf students who were comfortable with ASL attending UM for this documentary — leaves out a big part of how Deafness is a cultural identity independent from “an obstacle one has to overcome”
 and so for this reason the video rubs me the wrong way a bit
 now, a caveat to *me* analyzing this video is that I have never personally experienced being deaf, and so it’s hard to critique
 and this does provide valuable insight into what it means to be “a deaf person interacting with hearing people”
 just, this is an incomplete picture of what it means to be a Deaf person
 also, on that topic, there’s a lot of use of the term “hearing impairment”
 deaf people among themselves use the term “deaf”
 looking on that article, i react immediately to this sentence
 “ASL users face stigma due to beliefs in the superiority of spoken language to signed language, compounded by the fact that ASL is often glossed in English due to the lack of a standard writing system.”
 and so that’s why i make such a big deal of the lack of ASL in the video
because, like, deafness is *not* just something that makes you talk funny and listen poorly and need to lip-read and that’s it

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