Through Deaf Eyes documentary reaches millions

Through Deaf Eyes documentary reaches millions

children signing The Star Spangled Banner
Photo: J.B. Schmidt, National Archives
This 1918 photograph shows students at the St. Rita’s School for the Deaf signing The Star Spangled Banner.
Via public events and PBS broadcast, the “Through Deaf Eyes” documentary that originated with a Gallaudet-curated exhibit has been seen by millions of people across the U.S. and is slated for its first international viewing. The two-hour documentary explored many of the themes of the “History Through Deaf Eyes” piece that toured the country for several years. The film, which was produced by WETA TV, Washington and Florentine Films/Hott productions in association with Gallaudet University, started airing on PBS stations in March 2007.  To date, over 97% of the PBS network has screened the documentary highlighting nearly 200 years of deaf life.
 
Public screening events have been held in more than 50 venues, with hosts also coordinating panel discussions with audience participation. Often the discussions lead to local analysis of a national issue included in “Through Deaf Eyes.”  Additional private uses of the film, often in school and university settings, further extend the reach of the documentary in raising awareness of deaf history and culture. The film’s influence will go international this summer with a presentation at the Thai Sign Language Teachers Association.  
 
The popular companion book, Through Deaf Eyes: A Photographic History of an American Community, sold out its first printing.  The book was co-authored by writer and historian Douglas Baynton; historian, author, curator, and Gallaudet alumnus Jack Gannon; and Jean Bergey, a Gallaudet alumna and project director for Gallaudet’s Deaf Eyes project. Reprints should be on the shelves soon and available at the University’s Bison Shop bookstore and Gallaudet University Press.  The “Through Deaf Eyes” documentary is enjoying expanded availability and can now be purchased via Gallaudet University Press and www.ShopPBS.com, or rented via Netflix.
 
An exciting contribution to Gallaudet University is the unedited footage from each of the interviews.  Hundreds of hours of tape came back to Gallaudet and over time will be added to Gallaudet’s Video Library.  This rich collection is sure to become an important resource for researchers and students. 
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