The film takes place on the streets in New York City. A homeless teenager sees a man waiting for the bus who is in the wrong place and unresponsive when someone attempts to talk to him. This catches the teen’s eye. The teen walks up to the man who is holding a sign that states, “I am Deaf and Blind; tap me if you can help me cross the street.” The boy taps him on the shoulder. The man takes out a notepad and writes “I need M15.” The boy guides him to the bus stop and stays with him to make sure he gets on the bus safely.
As the two wait for the bus to arrive, they begin talking. The man asks the boy a question on the notepad and holds out his hand. The teen responds by tapping out/writing the response in the palm of the man’s hand. The teen sits by the man and pats his knee to let him know he is there with him. After talking back and forth, the teen eventually helps the man get on the bus and gives the money to the driver. He tells the driver that the man is blind and deaf and to tap him when they get to his stop. The driver appears to brush it off and does not respond.
The teen asks again. The driver, who seems agitated, says “Sure.” The teen says, “Not sure, the man just wants to get home.” The driver reassures the teen that he will take care of the man. The teen thanks the driver. He goes back to the man and writes “You okay?” in his palm. The man smiles and nods, then stands up and writes in the teen’s hand, “You’ll be okay,” and gives him a hug. The boy gets off the bus with tears in his eyes and waves.
This film is not only significant for its heart-warming storyline, but also for its representation and awareness of overlooked communities in a variety of ways. With its casting and production team, the message is that there are no limits as to what members of the deaf and/or deaf-blind communities can do. The film demonstrates how people can learn and adapt to new ways of communicating with others. It also shows that members of completely different communities can co-exist and even make a difference in someone’s life. Film and mass media are such influential ways to spread awareness about our communities.
“The film demonstrates how people can learn and adapt to new ways of communicating with others.”
Members of the deaf and deaf-blind communities often just wish to included and to be seen just like anyone else. We may communicate and navigate the world differently in multiple ways. When people make an effort to get to know and communicate with us, it means the world. While I cannot speak for all deaf/hard of hearing and deaf-blind individuals, I know I can speak for many when I say it can be easy to feel invisible in society – especially in the hearing world. People avoid communicating with us because they aren’t sure how or because they think it’s useless or that it might take up too much time.
However, here’s the thing: we’re human too. If only we are treated as human can we intermix with the rest of society. If only society can take the few extra steps that were taken by the teenager in this film, we can be included, we can collaborate, have conversations, make friends, and have profound impacts. This film demonstrates all of that and more. It’s not just about the fact that one actor is deaf-blind or that a deaf actress was an executive producer, although that’s largely significant too. It’s also about the fact that when just one person took a few extra seconds to care and adapt, a man was able to make it home that night just like anyone else. It was because the boy realized that he could communicate with the man, just in a difference way and their conversation led to a friendship.
Don’t be afraid to spread awareness about our communities and get to know us. It’s films like these that will allow society to see all of the above. We need more of it; this is only the beginning!
Overall, I believe this is a film that all should see. Too often, we tend to separate and divide communities based on ability, origin, and values, but the truth is that division and separation only divides us more. By making it a point to reach our hands and hearts out to those different than our own, we can make an impact and possibly even create a ripple effect. As portrayed in this film, it was just the random act of kindness from one stranger to another that changed two individuals lives in ways neither imagined. So take the time to reach out, be kind, learn alternative methods of communication to be more inclusive, and most of all, take the time to care.