going to see a really popular movie, only to find it was in a
language you did not understand. It would be really frustrating
trying to figure out what was going on without understanding the
dialog. This is what Deaf people have been dealing with since the
late 1920's. Deaf people love movies as much as the next hearing
person, but they, like hearing people, do not like not knowing what
is going on in the movie. With hearing people, often the solution is
to just turn up the volume; Deaf people either must rely on
interpreters (an inconvenient and sometimes impossible proposition)
or closed captioning. But why interpret from sound in the first
place? That would be like watching nothing but foreign films your
entire life! Deaf people have their own culture and their own way of
communicating, so why not let Deaf people make their own movies with
their own Deaf stars using sign language?
of technological advances in the photography world led to the
development of movies. Originally, these movies were short films
that told a story. The first of such movies had no sound, and since
all dialog was minimal and visually represented, early movies were
fully accessible by hearing and Deaf people alike. But in 1927, the
first "talkie" appeared on the screen, and from then on, the
mainstream movie industry incorporated sound into all of its movies
(Dominick, 2007, p. 204). This change meant Deaf people could no
longer enjoy the shows made and viewed by their hearing
hearing-friendly media proliferated, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people
were left out of the picture. Deaf people wanted to enjoy the same
entertainment hearing people did, so they founded their own TV
services and cinematography companies, as well as producing a wealth
of independent films. One of these new TV services was Sign City TV.
According to its mission statement, this service is "devoted to
bringing quality television to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
community throughout America"
(http://www.signcity.tv/about.html2.html). All programming is
presented in sign language, and they even go so far as to make it
accessible to the hearing population by providing captions and full
sound, too! Another company devoted to serving Deaf people's
entertainment needs is Davideo Productions. This company has
produced a number of movies in sign language, as well as playing
host to independent film festivals such as "Cinema for Everyone"
that feature independent Deaf films (http://www.davideo.tv/). Two
recent additions to the number of Deaf entertainment companies are
DeafVision Filmworks and JADE films. There are some interesting
similarities between these two movie production companies: they both
promote awareness and produce films featuring Deaf and Hard of
Hearing African-Americans and Latinos
(http://www.micarunway.com/pressrelease1.html)! Both are also
non-profit organizations that were founded in the 1990's (DeafVision
Filmworks in 1991, and JADE Films in 1997).
people love movies just as much as hearing people, but due to their
differences in communication, they have a hard time enjoying each
other's entertainment without some sort of intermediary.
Fortunately, Deaf people are just as capable of producing movies as
hearing people, and have proceeded to do so successfully. Sign City
TV, DeafVision Filmworks, and JADE films all act as wonderful assets
to the Deaf community and help the world to recognize Deaf people
for who and what they are: people just like anyone else, who
communicate in their own unique way.
Davideo, 2005. Introduction to Davideo
Productions. Davideo Productions. 25, Oct 2008:
Sign City Television, 2005. Mission.
Sign City Television. Retrieved 28, Oct 2008:
Dominick, J (2007). The Dynamics of Mass Communication. Boston, MA:
Graziano, Michael E. 6, Nov 2007. About DeafVision Filmworks,
Inc. & JADE Films and Entertainment, LLC. MICA Runway. Retrieved
1, Nov 2008: <http://www.micarunway.com/pressrelease1.html.>