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Sarah Michaelson and Michael Herzovi, a Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU) alum, incorporated American Sign Language (ASL) and a variety of media effects to make the story more accessible for children with various disabilities.
Michaelson was inspired to start the project after hearing Herzovi, her life partner, do voiceover for a documentary by Crom Saunders, an associate professor in the American Sign Language (ASL) Department at Columbia College Chicago.
American actor Troy Kotsur became the second deaf performer in Academy history to win an acting award at the Oscars (after his “CODA” co-star Marlee Matlin, who took home best actress in 1987 for “Children of a Lesser God”).
Deaf teenager Eloise Pennycott is to have a play performed in London’s Dorfman Theatre in July, after she was announced as the winner of the National Theatre’s ‘New Views’ playwrighting competition for young people. Eloise, a Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) user from Essex, landed the top prize with her play Barrier(s), which will be performed in a mix of BSL and English with actors from the Deaf community.
Fifteen years ago, as a freshman at Montclair State, Policelli wanted to take American Sign Language but at that time, she says, seniors and athletes had first dibs on the course. She started talking to one of her classmates, a softball player, about it. “She offered to sign up for the class and then drop it so I could get her spot.”
As it turned out, the class had such an impact on Policelli that she minored in ASL and later went back to school to become an interpreter. She worked as an interpreter and now teaches ASL to middle schoolers.
How does a person get a name sign — the series of unique gestures used to identify someone in American Sign Language? For a team of Times journalists, the process of answering that question underscored the importance of two storytelling basics — rely on experts and think of the audience — and resulted in an interactive article in July that provided a broader understanding of deaf culture.
For the deaf community, interactions with non-signing friends, family members and colleagues have always contained barriers. But as our work and social lives have moved almost explicitly online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these issues are exacerbated. As society develops new virtual means of working and living, deaf people are often left out of the conversation, further widening the inequality gap.
This site is edited by deaf filmmaker and journalist Charlie Swinbourne (who has written for the Guardian, Mirror and BBC Online, and has also made a range of comedies, dramas and documentaries in BSL).