Deaf Representation in Media: Some Recommendations

Hey guys how’s it going? Today I want to spotlight the Deaf community with some recommendations in a variety of media with a plethora of sign languages and ranges of deafness. All of these stories have a special place in my heart so I hope you get some recommendations. Onto the media!

American Sign Language also called ASL

Definition and History according to Wikipedia and my own personal knowledge.

ASL is the sign language that serves most of the Deaf Communities in the United States and Most of Canada (Quebec has their own). This language has their own grammar, expressions and motions that makes it unique from the English Language. It is closely related to French Sign Language or LSF. It originated in the early 19th century in American School for the Deaf in Connecticut because the headmaster Gallaudet was one of the pioneers for it. It also wasn’t considered an official language until 1960.

Recommendations

Biographical Movie

Miracle Worker

This movie was actually my first exposure to ASL in general and learning so much about Helen Keller and how she was able to learn from Ann Sullivan was fascinating to me. This movie isn’t the only reason why I wanted to learn ASL, but it definitely helped me to be exposed to Deaf culture more than what I already had. I think if your children want to learn more about ASL and Helen Keller’s beginnings, I think this movie would definitely be a good start.

Teen Drama TV Show

Switched at Birth

This show is one that I was curious about because of the beginning premise being switched at birth oh interesting how are you going to play this out in this show?? However, upon watching it and discovering that one of the girls is Deaf from meningitis as a child played by an actual Deaf actress who had Meniere’s disease, I was hooked. There’s drama with how the characters deal with the actual switch but also how being deaf can affect high school through professional life with some supporting Deaf actors who have been deaf since birth. This also shows how the other girl becomes heavily influenced with the Deaf culture because of this and that was fascinating for me also. ASL is used in here quite a bit with almost every actor so for me learning ASL in high school as my foreign language, it was definitely helpful for me to solidify some of my interpreting skills. If you love drama and want to learn a little bit more about Deaf culture in everyday life, check this show out.

Young Adult Novel

The Silence Between Us

This book is one that is unique because it shows someone who already embraces her deafness as the main character who moves to a new school and has difficulty with moving on to her next chapter in life because of the professional struggles of her disability, new friendships and a relationship. I appreciate the friendship group and the explanation of how the character deals with her deafness. If this interests you, check it out.

Adult Novel

Only When It’s Us

This adult romance story has fantastic late deaf representation with a bonus of someone trying to understand how they got sick and how they deal with a cochlear implant surgery and recovery (which has a lot of discourse and up to debate constantly in the Deaf community). Theres also a lot of soccer in this story and family shenanigans. If those aspects interest you, please check it out.

Japanese Sign Language or JSL

Definition and History according to Wikipedia and my own personal knowledge.

JSL also called Nihon Shuwa that is served in all areas of Japan. It is strongly influenced by Kanji the complex Japanese Writing System that has a variety of grammar, syntax, and signs. The most unique aspect of this language is called mouthing where the person pronounces a Japanese word with or without a sound. Its not known how the language was originated, however it assisted with the 20th century establishments of deaf education in Japan. It also was not considered an official language until 2011.

Recommendations

High School Romance Manga/Anime Movie

A Silent Voice

This series is one with representation but in a negative sense. This has bullying both verbally and physically and suicidal thoughts. I know these triggers may make it seem like its awful… but its eye-opening and profound all at the same time. Theres also a perspective with the bully and how much he learns JSL to atone for what he has done. There are also moments where the bully also has difficulty understanding the other character not because of her signs, but because she tries to speak and he gets confused. If not just for the deaf representation, check this out if you want to understand friendships and eventual relationships.

College Romance Manga

A Sign of Affection

This manga is one that is definitely receiving a ton of hype in the romance manga community and even though I personally am not a fan of the leading guy, The visuals of JSL in these panels are easy to understand and beautiful. There’s also the visuals of how the deaf characters reads lips by the fading of the text or the different words that aren’t what is interpreted. It’s definitely perfect for someone who wants to see a visual interpretation of Japanese Deaf culture especially in a college setting.

British Sign Language or BSL

Definition and History according to Wikipedia and my own personal knowledge.

BSL is a language that serves all the Deaf communities in the United Kingdom. Its history goes as far back as 1450 but has evolved over time due to the efforts of Thomas Braidwood and Joseph Watson with their establishments of their Deaf schools The Braidwood School and The Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb. It is distinctly different from other country’s languages in Europe but it is closely related to ASL with 31% of their signs being identical. Also it wasn’t officially considered a language until 2003.

Recommendations

Young Adult Novel

A Quiet Kind of Thunder

This book was actually the first young adult novel I read with British Sign Language and the way that the author was able to describe the signs with some exquisite detail was amazing. There’s also representation of selective mutism on top of the youth British Deaf community. The lessons on communication were profound and inspiring. Highly recommend this for teens!

Adult Novel

Never Seduce a Scot

Ok, so this novel does not have an actual visual of British Sign Language but! It shows quite a bit of how deafness in historical times was interpreted and how well the leading lady has some fantastic coping mechanisms. The romance in here also is very beautiful. Highly recommend.

Australian Sign Language or Auslan

Definition and History according to Wikipedia and my own personal knowledge.

Auslan is the main sign language of the Deaf community of Australia. The name of Auslan was coined by Trevor Johnston in the 1980s but the language itself is much older with some of the early deaf schools being established in 1860. It is influenced by BSL, Irish Sign Language, and New Zealand Sign Language with some new signs acquired from ASL. It isn’t offically recognized as an offical language by everyone in Australia, but in 1987 and 1991, the main Australian government recognized Auslan as a “community language other than English and the preferred language of the Deaf community in government policy.

Recommendation

Young Adult Novel

Impossible Music

This was the most recent book that I have read with deaf representation and it was so different from any that I had read before. First, the main character completely rejects his deafness because how it happened was not typical and because of his age. Second, this character is a musician and composer so because of this, bringing that perspective plus being deaf plus Auslan is such a unique form of sign language just made the book so interesting to read. Lastly, it’s not sunshine and rainbows so although it could seem like a happy ending at the end, the journey to get there is profound and difficult and there’s not much romance either. If this appeals to you please check this out.

What do you think of Deaf representation in books? Did you know there were more than one variant of Sign Language??? Do you have any recommendations with Deaf representation?? Let’s talk about it!!

Published by Sushirainbow

Obsessed with books, anime, manga, and helping others. This Blog will consist of Reviews, Recommendations and Overall Thoughts. I also have an Instagram with the same name.

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