The Silent Child, a short film about a deaf child named Libby (Maisie Sly), has helped bring deafness into the spotlight. In the film, 4-year-old Libby has two hearing parents who have limited knowledge about the disability. A social worker (Rachel Shenton) comes along and teaches Libby sign language, which leads to a transformation in her behavior and happiness as she feels more connected to the world. The film has received many awards and accolades; however, it's up for its biggest award on March 4. The Silent Child was nominated for an Oscar for the "Live Action Short Film" category.
Rachel Shenton is also the writer of the film. On the film's website, she says she was inspired by her father, who suddenly and profoundly lost his hearing when she was 12 years old. Rachel saw the impact his hearing loss had on him and her family. She learned sign language as a result.
Rachel, along with inspirational deaf artists like Marlee Matlin and Nyle DiMarco, are helping to raise awareness of and changes for the deaf community.
Rachel is focusing her efforts on children. According to her,
"90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents with no experience of deafness often resulting in limited communication between the parent and child, meaning a child can start school with little to no communication skills. Since the closure of almost all deaf schools, deaf children now have to attend mainstream school and shockingly over 78% of deaf children attend mainstream school with no specialised support in place. This is heavily reflected in their grades as well as their mental health and well being.
Deafness is a silent disability, you can’t see it and it’s not life threatening so it’s easy for it to slip under your radar. We hope this movie helps to get sign language recognised in schools and give a voice to all the silent children around the world."
Nyle DiMarco, who is currently starring in the TV show This Close (Hollywood's first-ever series to feature deaf writers, producers, and creators) and producing Children of a Lesser God on Broadway, tweeted recently about the much-deserved recognition deaf actors and films are receiving in Hollywood:
Nyle has a foundation dedicated to "making the world a better place for deaf people and their families."
We're grateful for people like Rachel, Nyle and Marlee (who needs no introduction) for using their influence to help shed light on and support the deaf community.