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Film: Deaf Characters

  • By: Miriam Nathan Lerner & Edna Edith Sayers
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

This entry focuses on films made by American and foreign filmmakers who have little or no special interest in or knowledge about deaf people or Deaf communities. Casting hearing actors to portray deaf characters is unfortunately common. Because neither the filmmakers, the expected audiences, nor the actors know anything about d/Deaf people, inauthenticities are widespread. These problems are only slightly improved by casting a Deaf actor: Deaf actors can portray authentic use of a sign language but are often limited by the script, the director, and the editing process. Therefore, while the signing community commends the casting of Deaf actors, the discussion here focuses on the deaf characters themselves and reasons for their inclusion in the story. In the following, the actors are labeled either ...

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