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‘Deaf Out Loud’: Bringing deaf and hearing worlds together

People familiar with hearing loss know that every family is different; one communication modality that works for one may not for another. But the general public is largely ignorant.

For example, Manny Mansfield and his wife Sheena are deaf and rely on ASL to communicate. They have two daughters; one is hearing, and one is deaf. “We had some people say, you’re deaf and you’re going to have a child? How are you going to take care of it?” signs Manny in a trailer for A&E’s documentary “Deaf Out Loud.”

It is precisely attitudes like these that Academy-award winning actress Marlee Matlin is hoping to disabuse with this show, which she executive produced with Bunim/Murray (known for The Real World and Keeping Up with the Kardashians). It’s presented by “Born This Way,” a 2016 Emmy winner for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program, which follows a group of seven young adults with Down syndrome. Premiering tonight at 8 p.m., “Deaf Out Loud” is an hour long and features three predominantly deaf families. Speculation is that if successful, it might be turned into a series.

In addition to the Mansfields, the Garcias and Posners are featured. Paco Garcia has been deaf since birth, and his wife April is a hearing child of deaf parents. They have six kids, four of whom are deaf. The family speaks and signs. Mick Posner and son Henry were born profoundly deaf while Rachel and daughter Faith experienced progressive hearing loss at a young age. They all wear hearing aids and use a mixture of speaking, reading lips, and sign language to communicate.

As Matlin says in an ad for the show, “The misconception lies in the fact that deaf people all think alike, talk alike, and live alike, and that’s not true.” What will hopefully become obvious is that this is a group of people just like everyone else. “There’s only one thing I cannot do, and that’s hear,” says Paco. “That’s it!”

“The misconception lies in the fact that deaf people all think alike, talk alike, and live alike, and that’s not true.”

The goal is to bring the deaf world and hearing world together, Paco adds. These efforts extend beyond the show. As it airs, Manny and Sheena (@MannyJohnson and @SheenaMcfeely) will be answering questions via #IGStory or Twitter, and the Posners (@raeposner and @mick_posner) will also be live on Instagram, interacting and answering questions with viewers.

Let us know what you think of “Deaf Out Loud” in the comments!

Author Details
Lisa A. Goldstein has a Masters in Journalism from UC Berkeley, a digital hearing aid, a cochlear implant, and plenty of deaf-friendly communication equipment. She spends her days juggling life as a freelance journalist, wife, and mother of two in Pittsburgh, PA.