Did you know there are over 11 million people in the UK living with a disability? We take a look at two film releases which focus on deafness and blindness.
The first is a film about a young girl called Libby. The film is aptly titled “The Silent Child”, as she is completely deaf, whereas the rest of her family can hear.
Libby's family didn’t realise she was deaf when she was born. Instead, they believed her to be a bit “odd” and withdrawn, perhaps even living with a personality disorder.
However, Libby was lost in a silent world where she was unable to interact with her parents, her siblings – anyone! It’s not until a social worker steps in to teach Libby and her family sign language, that Libby is able to start communicating.
This first tentative use of sign language is a transformative moment in the film. To show how it feels from Libby’s point of view, the director cuts the sound completely from one scene, giving us, a taste of what it’s like not to be able to hear. Not the clatter of knives and forks as they scoop food from plates as people eat, nor the lively chatter of their conversation. Nothing.
Then, this total silence is broken using sign language, enabling Libby to join in and she begins to have a strong presence within her family unit.
For children with no hearing difficulties, the ability to interact with other people is a fundamental way of learning and flourishing. Without those skills, life can be difficult.
A study (in the Huffpost – 8 January 2018) shows that 78% of deaf children start school with no extra help, which seems remarkable in the connected world we live in today. This film shows what a massive difference the simple, but profound act of communication means to everyone, especially a child, with so much to learn.
The Silent Child is definitely worth a watch. It's currently available on various streaming platforms.
If you find that you, or someone you care for has a problem with hearing, then you might find some of the mobility products on our website helpful. There are new products being developed regularly and it is certainly a section of the website where we are increasing our mobility product range.
For more information, please click on this link to the Action on Hearing Loss charity.
If you would like to learn the basics of sign language, then why not visit the British Sign Language website.
If you have a child who is deaf, then you can get information and help from the National Deaf Children’s Society.
Blindness is another profound and life changing condition, and a new film release – Notes on Blindness – goes through the trauma of losing sight.
The writer, John Hull, at the age of 45, became blind just before the birth of his son and, to try and make sense of what was happening to him, John began an audio diary. It is this audio diary which was then made into the film.
The film takes an honest and unpitying look at the profound effect blindness can have on a person, and on the members of the family. Not just the practicalities of day-to-day life, living without sight, but the emotional impact, too.
John describes how blindness destroyed his visual memory, resulting in him forgetting what things look like, including people’s faces, even the face of his own wife, a heart-breaking fact John must learn to live with.
The film is beautifully directed and never lapses into sentiment, or self-pity. Any pathos comes from the honest and compelling narration of the main character himself. Another film well worth watching.
Note On Blindness is currently streaming on Netflix.
For further information, please click here fore the link the Royal National Institute of Blind People.
No products, however helpful, can completely restore the old life a person once had when a dramatic disability strikes. However, there are many mobility aids which can be useful, with more and more in development.
For those who are partially sighted and struggle with reading a book, e-readers (such as Amazon’s Kindle) have been a godsend, as the size of the text size can be enlarged. E-readers are also backlit which also aids reading.
There are other mobility products too, such as the computer mouse magnifier and big button telephone. Just two of the mobility products on the Ability Superstore website which are extremely popular with our customers.
Hopefully, when the film, TV and theatre industries return to any form of “normal” after the current Coronavirus pandemic, directors will continue to shine a spotlight on other areas of disability, to aid further understanding and compassion in our world.