See Hear: When deaf videos go viral

Summarized by Joelle Chasse, staff writer

The ability to share recorded video footage to a widespread audience is easier than ever. The tools required for filming and sharing footage are available to anyone with a smartphone and computer, and millions are able to see and share this footage. Videos on the internet are especially useful for deaf people to record themselves in their first, and most fluent, language (sign language). These videos can be shared with other members of the Deaf community or the world at large.

Getting specific messages out to a large audience has never been easier, which some deaf people have utilized in impressive ways. The following videos are evidence of that.

“Ava Dinner Chat” has over 1.2 million views on Youtube, and features a simple dinner conversation that a man named Nick Beese filmed between his partner, Lilli, and his two-year-old daughter, Ava. Beese had no way of predicting the video’s eventual “viral” status. The conversation between Lilli and Ava is signed in BSL, because both mother and daughter are deaf.

The video itself is simple in execution and appearance, but it has obviously reached a lot of exposure. Deaf filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne suspects this is because of an innate interest in family life. Such a normal moment in Beese’s daily routine has educational value: “A lot of hearing people didn’t realize that many children in deaf families can communicate fully in sign language at 24 months.”

Another video, “Barack Obama signs ASL,” has over 1 million views and depicts a spontaneous moment between US President Obama and a deaf man, Stephon Williams. At a rally, Williams recorded Obama shaking hands with people in the crowd. Williams instinctively signed “I am proud of you” in ASL when the president was close, which Obama responded by signing “Thank you.”

It is not known if President Obama even understood what Williams said. Still, the video captures a unique and touching moment between a world leader and his supporters.

Finally, Charlie Swinbourne’s latest film (“Four Deaf Yorkshiremen Go To Blackpool”) can be found online in high quality, although it was originally a low-budget Youtube video. Swinbourne states that making his films available on the internet has been “massive” for his career, allowing exposure to his films to deaf audiences outside of the United Kingdom.

To learn more about See Hear, and for the links to the videos mentioned above, read the full story here.

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