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New Documentary Deaf Out Loud to Showcase Three Deaf Families

Interview Opportunity Available with Deaf Out Loud Executive Producer Jonathan Murray

Washington, D.C., July 29 – Following on the heels of the critically acclaimed award-winning original docuseries Born This Way, A&E Network will be debuting Deaf Out Loud in September. A documentary special, Deaf Out Loud follows the lives of three predominantly deaf families who utilize different communication modalities in everyday life.

headshot of Jonathan Murray wearing a gray striped shirt and facing the camera color photo

Jonathan Murray

Executive Producer Jonathan Murray will be showing a sneak preview of the trailer at a summit on Capitol Hill on Monday, July 30 while moderating the panel “Fighting Implicit Bias Through TV and Film.” Panelists include Jeanette Betancourt, SVP, U.S. Social Impact of Sesame Workshop; Crystal R. Emery, who directed Black Women in Medicine; and Rachel Dretzin and Andrew Solomon, director and author of Far From The Tree. The summit, “From Washington to Hollywood and Beyond: The Future of Americans with Disabilities,” is being presented by RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with all disabilities. Murray serves on RespectAbility’s Board of Directors. Interview opportunities with Murray, who created MTV’s The Real World, and produces A&E’s Born This Way, are available during the conference.

Misconceptions exist about deaf individuals – from schooling, to employment and raising a family. Shows like Deaf Out Loud aim to change these misperceptions and has the potential to bring awareness and better understanding about people who are deaf. This show delves into the various ways Deaf culture is expressed and embraced in the United States. The three families will show viewers the diversity of Deaf culture today, and how it differs from hearing cultures.

“People with disabilities need to see positive representations of themselves, both as people with satisfying personal lives and as people who can perform successfully in the workplace,” Murray said. “Those positive images will change for the better the way the greater society sees people with disabilities, opening up more opportunities for them.”

headshot of Marlee Matlin wearing a pink top

Marlee Matlin

As with representation of people with all types of disabilities, Deaf individuals are underrepresented in television and film. There are some good examples, however. Among them are Quantico, featuring Marlee Matlin, who is also an executive producer on Deaf Out Loud; The Silent Child, showcasing the talents of six-year-old Maisie Sly, who uses British sign language; Baby Driver, with a moving performance by the African-American deaf actor C.J. Jones; and Wonderstruck in which deaf newcomer Millicent Simmonds astonished critics and audiences with a magnificent, visually expressive performance.

Deaf film producer Delbert Whetter explained the importance of using authentic deaf actors in a piece for The Hollywood Reporter. “Sign language has tremendous cinematic properties, with unique and complex forms of inflection, intonation and pitch that can take years to master but can amplify and deepen performances in ways accessible to all audiences,” he wrote. Whetter also is available for in-person interviews at the summit.

Headshot of Kaity in professional dress in front of the Respectability banner

Kaity Hagen

RespectAbility’s conference also features Deaf advocate Kaity Hagen, who will be speaking as part of the “Importance of Intersectionality: Enabling People of Color and Immigrants with Disabilities to Succeed” panel. She will be speaking alongside Stepahnie Farfan, an alumna of RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program and Clarence Page, Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist for The Chicago Tribune. Donna Walton, founder and president of The Divas With Disabilities Project, will moderate this panel.

The event will be taking place in the Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. Breakfast starts at 8:00 a.m. with formal remarks beginning at 9:00 a.m. The full conference agenda (all open to the press) is available on RespectAbility’s website here: Space is extremely limited and RSVPs are required.

Deaf Out Loud is produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, with Murray, Gil Goldschein, Laura Korkoian, Matlin and Jack Jason as the executive producers. Executive producers for A&E Network are Elaine Frontain Bryant, Shelly Tatro and Jeana Dill.

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so all people with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry. Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. To reach her, email [email protected]

2 comments… add one
  • Meribeth Pierce Sep 14, 2018, 10:48 pm

    I am very interested in spreading awareness of hearing loss. Iam in my late forties. I have been wearing Cochlear implants since my first implant in 2010 and my second in 2012. One of my “ Cochlear moments “ is I realize my hearing loss began as a child. That would have been in the 70’s/80’s where in my opinion at the time I was overlooked and passed over in grade school. No one at the time thought it was a Hearing issue. They just thought I neeed extra help in class. Now I look back I just didn’t hear things like everyone else
    In my 20 to 30’s I wore Hearing aids. I was always told there nothing else to do. Your hearing is diminishing. Then one day I heard a friend of mine got a Cochlear implant. So my husband encouraged me to find out about Cochlear implants. I did qualify for them. At the time you are freaked out that Hearing is that bad. But I thank my lucky stars for them. They bring you back to life. I might not hear as good as normal person. But I do everything to try.
    Since I got my Cochlear’s. I help out with Cochlear research testing at university of Illinois, joined Illinois Cochlear implant Chapter and I am on the board, I constantly spread awareness. I even recently changed careers. Cochlear’s gave me the confidence to try new things. I enjoy being apart of the Hearing world.
    I would be interested to find out how I could be apart of National tv to spread positive awareness of how Cochlear’s have possibly changed my life
    Meribeth Pierce
    Manteno, Illinois 60950

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