The first thing I would like to talk about is the history of Deaf actors and actresses in television and film. Deaf people first started appearing on television in the fifties but had very few roles. Most deaf roles had hearing people casted to play them. This stayed true through the sixties. More appearances by deaf actors and actresses began in the seventies but the roles were still limited and most of the time the deaf actors only got a guest appearance on a show. The eighties is when deaf people started becoming big time actors in movies. In 1985 a movie was made about a girl with deaf parents called “Love is Never Silent” that stared a deaf actors named Phyllis Frelich and a deaf actress named Ed Waterstreet. The eighties also saw its first regular deaf character in a show called “The Family Tree” in which Jonathan Hall Kovacs (a deaf actor) played a deaf boy. In the late eighties deaf actress Terrylene had several appearances on “Beauty and the Beast”. In the nineties a deaf actress named Marlee Matlin became a television star by getting recurring roles in the shows “Picket Fences” and “The West Wing”. She was also the Star of a Television show called “Reasonable Doubts”. The show “ER” had many guest appearances by deaf actors and a...
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...much troubles as hearing people. By using nothing but American Sign Language the show forces people to pay attention and look what is really happening in the scene. This show has been a total experiment by showing a totally new language and culture to people that have not seen much diversity of this type. I personally think that the idea of bringing a more or less unknown culture that not many people have been exposed to is a great idea and can make people more comfortable with the American Sing Language culture. It is shows like this that can shed new light and help stop discrimination by exposing people.
As you can see, deaf people have had an important part in the history of television and film. Many actors and actresses like Marlee Matlin have paved the way for the new generation of deaf actors and actresses that have appeared on shows like “Switched at Birth”.
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