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Deaf Culture - Television Programming for the Deaf

Deaf People Had - and Have - Their Own Shows

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Updated November 11, 2009

Television programs for the deaf have been on television in the United States and Europe since the 1970s or earlier, and today there is video programming for the deaf on the internet.

UNITED STATES

Before closed captioning, there was very little on television for the deaf. One such program was D.E.A.F. Media, Inc.'s Emmy-award winning educational program Rainbow's End, five episodes that aired on PBS. Rainbow's Endfeatured characters such as SuperSign (Freda Norman). This program also provided early acting opportunities for deaf actors such as C.J. Jones. Susan Rutherford was executive producer, and itwas also a showcase for the directing work of Howie Seago. It is still possible to buy the videos of this old American television classic, from the following sources:

Deaf Mosaic was an Emmy-winning Gallaudet University production thatwas very popular in the 80s and 90s. Through Deaf Mosaic,hosted by Gil Eastman and Mary Lou Novitsky, deaf and hearing viewerslearned about many different aspects of the deaf community. The Deaf Mosaic producers traveled and documented events and people.Just a few examples of the topics covered by Deaf Mosaic: a deaf firefighter, international deaf artists, and deaf child inventors. Several episodes can be borrowed for free from the Captioned Media Program. Gallaudet University has put all Deaf Mosaics online at videolibrary.gallaudet.edu (registration required).

There was also a short-lived cable channel, the Silent Network, which later became Kaleidoscope.SN/Kaleidoscope aired deaf programs such as Deaf Connection.

UNITED KINGDOM

In the United Kingdom, there were early programs for the deaf: For Deaf Children/Vision On (1950s and 1960s), followed by a news program and Signs of Life in the 60s and 70s. The most successful deaf program produced in the U.K. is See Hear (started 1981), which continues to this day. See Hear does not appear to be available on video, nor does it air in the United States. As it has matured, See Hear has begun to air originalprogramming such as Switch, a deafsoap/drama,in addition to its traditional programming mix.

OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES

  • Denmark has television programming for the deaf, and the producers have a website.
  • Finland's Prosign produces a video program distributed by mail.
  • France has a deaf tv magazine, "The Eye and the Hand."
  • Germany has "Seeing instead of Hearing," Sehen statt Horen, aired by Bayerischer Rundfunk. A search of the site for "sehen" turned up a page for the program, complete with program descriptions.
  • Ireland has "Hands On," aired on RTE, which even includes a cartoon. It airs twice a month, and the website includes the archives. The program includes deaf-oriented news, commentary, and newsmagazine style reports.
  • Spain has a regional magazine program, Telesigno, available since 1992. It appears from the website that Telesigno focuses on news programming.
  • Slovenia has its own Web TV, in their language. According to an About.com visitor, Slovenia's web tv has deaf-oriented news, commentary, and newsmagazine reports.
  • Sweden has deaf programming produced by Dovas TV. Dovas TV has produced children's magazines (The Signbox), and The Deaf's World.
  • Switzerland has a program called Signes (originally Ecoutez Voir/Hear and See).
  • The Netherlands organizationDeaf Dutchship reportedly produces a video program distributed by mail.

PRESENT AND FUTURE

Today, there is video programming for the deaf on the internet, and more will probably be coming as broadband grows. DeafNation.com offers video programming to accompany its news articles. Traditional broadcast programming is reportedly still available, through an endeavor called Sign City Television, from Davideo Productions.

An About visitor submitted this information:
"Community View," formally (formerly (sic)), "Sign Out," which has been running in Arizona since 1974 is the longest running television show dedicated to the deaf and hard of hearing communities in the United States. Community View airs every Sunday at 2:30 on KAZ-TV in Phoenix and at 6:00 am on KUAT -TV in Tucson.

Community View is a talk show which uses three forms of communication, American Sign Language, voice overs and closed captioning. Show topics range from curent events, politics, consumer awareness to entertainment. Our goal at Community View is to provide our audience with programing that will enhance the quality of their lives.

If you know of more deaf programs in the U.S. or other countries, please let me know.

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