Deafblindness in literature and media: The colourful and polyphonic world of deafblindness

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12 books, films and podcasts you should be reading, watching and listening* to this summer!

*Not necessarily in that respective order! Remember, some of us listen to the books and read the podcasts, with or without using assistive technology.

 

As deafblindness and persons with deafblindness are increasingly being portrayed and featured in culture, the awareness and understanding of deafblindness as a distinct and unique disability will grow amongst the population. Representation in literature and media is both a great victory on its own, but it is also a small step on the path to something much bigger: full and equal inclusion and participation in all areas of life for persons with deafblindness.

Happy International Day of Deafblindness!

 

BOOKS BY AUTHORS WITH DEAFBLINDNESS:

Being Seen – One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism, by Elsa Sjunneson (2021).

“Part memoir, part cultural criticism, part history of the Deafblind experience, Being Seen explores how our cultural concept of disability is more myth than fact, and the damage it does to us all.” – Simon and Schuster product review. Sjunneson is also a writer of speculative fiction and nonfiction: Check out Elsa Sjunneson’s other works

 

Deaf-Blind Reality: Living the Life, by Scott M. Stoffel (2012).

Collection of perspectives and reflections from persons with deafblindness: “Deaf-Blind Reality offers genuine understanding of the unspectacular but altogether daunting challenges of daily life for deaf-blind people” – Amazon product review

 

How to Communicate: Poems, by John Lee Clark (2022).

“Formally restless and relentlessly instructive, How to Communicate is a dynamic journey through language, community, and the unfolding of an identity.” – Amazon product review. To be published in December 2022.

 

AUTOBIOGRAPHIES/MEMOIRS:

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law, by Haben Girma (2019).

Personal and thought-provoking memoir centring around the topic of human connection. Girma is a keen writer, speaker and disability advocate:  Check out Haben Girma’s work

 

The World I Live In, by Helen Keller (1908).

“”The World I live In” (1908) offers Helen’s remarkable insight of the world’s beauty perceived through the sensations of touch, smell, and vibration, together with the workings of a powerful imagination.” – Amazon product review.

 

BIOGRAPHIES:

The Gift of Speech [Original title: ‘Talegaven’] (Norwegian), by Hilde Diesen (2021).

Interesting and deeply moving biography about Ragnhild Kaata, the first person with pre-lingual deafblindness who learned to speak. Cannot read Norwegian? Read our article about Ragnhild Kaata in English or Spanish instead!

 

The Education of Laura Bridgman: First Deaf and Blind Person to Learn Language, by Ernest Freeberg (2002).

“Poignant and hopeful, The Education of Laura Bridgman is both a success story of how a sightless and soundless girl gained contact with an ever-widening world, and also a cautionary tale about the way moral crusades and scientific progress can compromise each other.” – Amazon product review.

 

FILMS

Feeling Through (2019)

Based on a real-life experience of writer/director Doug Roland, Feeling Through portrays “a late-night encounter on a New York City street [that] leads to a profound connection between a teen-in-need and a DeafBlind man” (IMDb, 2022) Starring Robert Tarango, an actor with deafblindness. Nominated for the 2021 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.

 

Marie’s Story (2014)

(French. Original title: ‘Marie Heurtin’).

Portraying the life of Marie Heurtin, a French girl with deafblindness who were educated at the convent Notre Dame de Larnay, near Poitiers, where she later educated other children with deafblindness. No actors with deafblindness are featured in the film.

 

PODCASTS

‘The Helen Keller Exorcism’, Radiolab (11 March 2022)

Intriguing interview with Elsa Sjunneson about her views on Helen Keller, both the actual living, breathing person and the mythic phenomenon. Available as transcript, ASL transcript, and Braille file. Radiolab: The Helen Keller Exorcism

 

ICYDB Podcast Series

“The Idaho Project for Children and Youth with Deaf-Blindness (ICYDB) Podcast Series provides training and consultation to service providers and families of children and young adults who have a combined vision and hearing loss. The series is hosted by Dr Robin Greenfield, and you will hear from some of the best known experts in the field of deaf-blindness” (ICYDB, 2022). Transcript available.  ICYDB Podcast Series

 

NFADB Podcast

The podcast series of 8 episodes invites parents, professionals and advocates to share their experiences with deafblindness from a family perspective. Produced by National Family Association for Deaf-Blind (NFADB) promoting deafblind awareness.  NFADB Podcast

Latest news

Deafblindness and the SDGs

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) 2022 meeting is fast approaching and will take place from 5 to 15 July. At the HLPF

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