Can you hear me?
What if you couldn’t? What if you could hardly hear anything or worse, couldn’t hear anything at all?
This past weekend was the Signing in the Streets event at Downtown Disney. Based on the ABC Family show, Switched at Birth, the event had autograph signings from some of the actors on the show, acts by deaf entertainers, movies that showed deaf culture, and a Q&A session.
I got to talk to a Disneyland cast member, Tammy, who had lost her hearing at the age of two from bacterial spinal meningitis.
“At first, it was hard, but my mom really pushed me to function in the real world,” she said.
She is currently the only deaf cast member at Disneyland that interacts with the guests and she loves that she gets to educate people on what it is like to be deaf.
The show, Switched at Birth, is about two girls that were accidentally switched, but have only recently found out. Bay Kennish is an artist who has grown up in a very privileged home, while Daphne Vasquez is a middle class deaf girl who lost her hearing because she got sick as a child. Both girls go through radical changes as they try to deal with the effects of the switch.
At the Q&A session, the actors that were there, Sean Berdy and Marlee Matlin, were asked how they thought the show had opened the eyes of the hearing community. They liked that the show featured different kinds of deaf people and that it encourages hearing people to learn to sign. What made this Q&A session different from other ones that I had been to was that everyone (including the interviewer) were all deaf and they signed their responses.
The event closed with a series of performances by deaf entertainers. The first act was a comedian, who was hard of hearing. He told jokes about signing in different countries and how signs differ depending on where you go. He then introduced the rock band, “Beethoven’s Nightmare.” They sounded amazing and, not only could you hear the lead guy singing, but the band had a series of performers that either signed what they were singing or performed what the song was talking about.
Last but not least, Sean Berdy came and signed “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias. What made this performance better was the fact that his girlfriend was in the very front so he signed the entire song to her. When the song ended, he jumped off stage and kissed her.
What I learned from this event was how much more there is to being deaf and the deaf culture. I got back to school eager to look up signing tutorials on YouTube. If you have a chance to go to a deaf event, go, because you won’t regret the opportunities you will have to interact with amazing people.