Do you feel like hearing loss is accurately represented in mainstream media? Neither do I. Of the 48 million Americans who have trouble hearing, only 2 million identify as Deaf (capital D), using sign language as their primary form of communication. Yet, sign language is the lived experience that is most often portrayed on the large and small screen. For most of us — especially those of us who developed hearing loss later in life — our personal and professional networks live in the hearing world, and that is where we want to remain.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see our experience — the living with hearing loss experience — displayed and explained to the world. Over the past several months, I have been working on a documentary to do just that.
We Hear You Shines A Light on the Hearing Loss Experience
With co-executive producers Roxana Rotundo and Holly Cohen, I am proud to debut the trailer for We Hear You, a groundbreaking 1 hour documentary about hearing loss, the invisible disability that impacts 466 million people worldwide. Created and produced by people with hearing loss, We Hear You tells the story of 4 women battling the stigmas and challenges of hearing loss. The documentary was conceived, filmed and directed across two continents, all during the COVID-19 pandemic. A labor of love and advocacy, we are proud to share with the hearing loss community.
What is our hearing loss documentary about?
When you have hearing loss, conversation is like a game of Wheel of Fortune. Some of the letters are blank. Others are filled in. People with hearing loss take these incomplete sounds and put them into words or phrases that make sense in the context of the conversation. It doesn’t always work, leaving us isolated and alone. The pandemic made this worse, as masks took away our superpower — lipreading. We struggle to fit into the hearing world, yet there is a silver lining — meeting one another.
We Hear You features 4 women with hearing loss, each confronting stigmas, setbacks and successes, as they strive to live well despite the challenges of hearing loss.
Toni lives in the hearing world, but due to a profound hearing loss she does not hear enough to discern speech. She lipreads with almost 100% accuracy, except for the one time it mattered most.
Roxana began losing her hearing when she moved to the United States from Venezuela to start her own film and TV distribution company. Hearing aids worked, then didn’t. Cochlear implants allowed her to re-engage with her business and her life.
Holly was in her early 20’s when she was diagnosed with hearing loss. She lived in denial for 10 years, until one work meeting when she could not follow the discussion. Wearing hearing aids changed her life. Loss has formed her, not defined her.
And then there’s me. I grew up watching my father struggle with his own hearing loss. Stigmatized, he never asked anyone to repeat or speak louder. I vowed I would face my own hearing loss differently, and I have.
Watch the We Hear You trailer
We Hear You shines a light on the hearing loss experience. It shows a more inclusive world — one that is built for us too. It shatters stigmas of hearing loss that linger, even in our own community and highlights the ways people with hearing loss rise to advocate and build a better world for us all. Enjoy the captioned trailer below.
What Comes Next?
The full documentary will be available in April. We hope it will be bought by a TV network and/or streaming service and raise the voices and experiences of people with hearing loss to a broader audience.
Please help us generate excitement for the project! Share the captioned We Hear You trailer with others in the hearing loss community or on social media using the hashtag #WeHearYou.
Readers, what do you want to see in a documentary about hearing loss?