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 very well, 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?
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51 thoughts on “Documentary “We Hear You” Shines a Light on the Hearing Loss Experience”
Looking forward to seeing this in April!
Great idea and execution. I await the day when someone addresses those of us who are SSD – which adds another layer of challenge to navigate one’s life. We are truly ‘the forgotten.’
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Thanks for your comment.
Fabulous, Shari! This should help lift the veil of ignorance and/or avoidance regarding the hearing loss disability that affects so many of us.
Wishing you and your co-producers great success in distribution — after which I’d love to see a sequel featuring four males. Perhaps a senior, a working person, a young adult and a student.
Thank you for sharing your ideas.
This looks amazing! Four fantastic, informed and articulate advocates sharing their experiences so vulnerably. The gorgeous photography and music add such richness. Thank you for all you have put into this. We need this so much.
Thank you for your support!
So difficult to get these messages across. Good luck with the documentary. Great idea! Hope it travels across the pond.
Thank you! We hope so too!
I love the short clip of the video. Makes me think back to when I first realized it was me that couldn’t hear and not others that speak loud enough. It wasn’t easy, still isn’t but it is what it is and I am trying my hardest to not let it define my or my life. Thanks for all you do.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you and your co-producers for this much needed documentary. It reinforces there are millions of us. And, that we are strong, resilient and creative. Being diagnosed can be a “gut punch,” but we get up and discover the many silver linings.
Thank you for sharing your reaction.
Very powerful! Thank you Shari, Toni, Holly and Roxana. You speak for 48 million people in this country who live with hearing loss and who will understand they are not alone. I look forward to viewing the documentary and sharing it widely.
Thank you Elaine!
Nice project. Thanks for taking this on. It would be wonderful to see that this is successful. Some of the captions did not display. Has anyone seen the same?
The captions are burned into the video so hopefully others are not having this issue. Thank you for alerting me to it.
Shari, thank you for this project as well as all you did for getting our online meetings captioned thru Zoom and other platforms. You are the definition of a true advocate. Keep it up.
Thank you for your kind words.
Thank you Shari!! This is much needed. Hearing loss and it’s effects are very difficult to explain to explain in a way that people get it, and I guess for that reason, it hasn’t been.
So true. Thank for sharing your thoughts.
This is wonderful and I look forward to seeing the finished product! I certainly hope a streaming service picks it up. I am anxiously awaiting better technology in hearing aids that REALLY work in noisy environments and/or the fruition of recent pharmaceutical treatments. Having hearing loss is far better today than in previous years. Bravo for this documentary!
We hope so too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
This is wonderful Shari ! I agree with another comment about showing men, women, and different age groups. I always like to emphasize that hearing aids are not just for volume.
It is frustrating to have someone say “turn up the aids” when volume is not the only problem.
Perhaps PBS would broadcast this when it is finished.
We hope to include a greater diversity of ages, etc in the future. Filming during the pandemic made it more challenging this time around. Thank you for sharing your ideas.
Eagerly awaiting the documentary. Thank you all for doing this. A more diverse follow up would be good showing men and women, teens and young children, maybe even hearing spouses, parents and friends. My comment about the trailer is that sometimes the music covered the voices. I had to replay bits to “hear” what was being said.
Thank you for sharing your excellent feedback.
Great trailer! I loved seeing the two women walking side by side but facing each other. That’s how I always walk — . It’s much more essential to lip read than to see where I’m going! (But not safe!) I also liked seeing women in the group shots who might also be lesbian. It’s not that my hearing-loss friends are homophobic or anti-gay, it’s just that I *always* feel invisible at hearing-loss oriented events. Like I don’t exist. Which leaves me feeling unwelcome. I’m hoping that the final cut includes people of color, too. Our educational materials need to include Black, Latinx, Native Americans and Asians, too. (Unless, somehow, hearing loss only affects white people. 🙂 Thanks for your wonderful work!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the trailer.
When and where can I see this documentary??? I’ve just seen today that it is now available.
We are planning a screening through HLAA for September. Stay tuned for the date and time!
The film clip was/is amazing…truly heartwarming….for me..until recently, when I watched the clip with my grown son, who had no patience with my hearing loss and wanted to not really learn about why I hear some things and not others and why noisy rooms bother me and why living in my head is like WHEEL OF FORTUNE….one never knows which sounds one is missing, which makes conversation really frustrating. Well, he watched the clip with me and..with tears in his eyes, he apologized for not having been more compassionate, understanding and patient with me…he promised that he would never treat me that way again. Hearing him say this to me, changed my life forever, for the better I’m so grateful to you and Holly, Toni and Roxana, for writing, producing and starring in this magnificent work of art…it is magic.
Do you have any idea where the film might be shown? On TV? PBS? Netflix? Amazon Prime?…sometime in April, I think you said…just wondering…I want to watch it over and over again.
I am so glad that you found the film helpful and it was understandable to your son. That is our goal! We are marketing the documentary to all the broadcast networks and streaming services. Wish us luck! We are also working on posting it online for rental or purchase. Stay tuned.
We, in the HOH and Deaf communities, have needed a documentary like this, to show our families and to not make us feel so isolated, as if we were rainbow unicorns… Thank you, from the bottom of my heart…your work was a labor of love, for the whole world!
Praying that you can find a great platform, so that hundreds of thousands of people can regain their dignity.
Thank you! Fingers crossed.
I’d love to see houses of worship, community centers and senior centers host this film for their constituents.
That would be wonderful. We are working on a way for people to be able to view it going forward. Stay tuned.
For sure….and…bigger fish, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, network TV…PBS!
Of course! If anyone has any contacts at any of these places, please be in touch.