Photo: I. King Jordan, the first deaf president of Gallaudet University
THROUGH DEAF EYES is a two-hour HDTV documentary for PBS exploring nearly 200 years of Deaf life in America. The film presents the shared experiences of American history—family life, education, work, and community connections—from the perspective of deaf citizens.
Interviews include community leaders, historians, and deaf Americans with diverse views on language use, technology and identity. Bringing a Deaf cinematic lens to the film are six artistic works by Deaf media artists and filmmakers. Poignant, sometimes humorous, these films draw on the media artists' own lives and are woven throughout the documentary. But the core of the film remains the larger story of Deaf life in America—a story of conflicts, prejudice and affirmation that reaches the heart of what it means to be human. THROUGH DEAF EYES will be broadcast nationally on PBS on Wednesday, March 21 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings).
THROUGH DEAF EYES does not approach the topic of deaf history from the perspective of sentimentality or overcoming, nor does it deny the physical reality of being deaf. The documentary takes a straight-forward look at life for people who are part of the cultural-linguistic group who use American Sign Language and often define themselves as "Deaf" with a capital, and cultural, "D" and deaf people who, for a variety of reasons, do not identify with the Deaf cultural community. The history often shows that intersections between deaf and Deaf people are many and that oppression and discrimination are common experiences.