Early Years of Deafness in the MoviesIn the early days, deaf characters were played by hearing actors. The deaf woman in "Johnny Belinda" (compare prices) was played by a hearing actress. The deaf community began demanding that deaf roles by played by deaf actors. Gradually, Hollywood got the message. Real deaf people began to be cast in the movies.
Increase in Deafness in the MoviesMore movies are being made about deafness or with deaf actors. More than 30 years ago, Disney made the film "Amy," about a teacher in a deaf school. I think real deaf children were in the film. When I was a child, I saw "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," based on the Carson McCullers novel. That film featured a deaf character who was very important to the story though not the main character.
Turning Point in Deafness in the MoviesIf I had to select a turning point for mass acceptance of deaf actors, it would have to be the 1979 tv movie "And Your Name is Jonah" with a young deaf boy, Jeffrey Bravin, as the central character. To date, this classic has never been available on video. It aired without captions because closed captioning was not yet a technical reality. I finally saw it with captions at the Gallaudet University library.
"And Your Name is Jonah" was followed about a year later with "Love is Never Silent," based on the classic novel "In This Sign." Like "Jonah," "Love is Never Silent" has not been available on video. I wish that a company would put both "Jonah" and "Love" on DVD.