Netflix has a new show coming out this week that will change the mainstream impression of Deaf people. Deaf U is a docusoap about Deaf college students at the famous Gallaudet University. Well, famous among Deaf people.
The D.C. college is aimed for Deaf and hard-of-hearing students, though it also admits hearing people. The college itself made the news in the 80s when students led a Deaf President Now protest. The purpose of the protest was to get the college to appoint a Deaf President to the mainly-Deaf school.
Thanks to Nyle DiMarco, Netflix is adding two Deaf-centric shows to their content. The first drops on Friday, October 9.
Deaf U Explores College Life For Deaf Students
The college experience is the basis of countless movies and television shows. But most of those students are hearing. America’s Next Top Model winner, Nyle DiMarco, wanted to show the mainstream that Deaf college students aren’t so different from their hearing counterparts.
Netflix’s Deaf U documentary follows a group of college students as they travel through typical college rites-of-passage. From hook-ups to homesickness, the Deaf students do everything hearing students do. The only difference is the Gallaudet students do it in varying degrees of silence.
The spectrum of deafness is a surprisingly hot-button issue among the Deaf community. It comes to a head during the docuseries when friends disagree over using Sign Language or using their voice to communicate.
FYI: Capital “Deaf” is used when referencing the community and culture. Lowercase “deaf” is used when discussing the medical aspects of hearing loss.
What is ‘Deaf Elite’?
Netflix released a new sneak peek at the docusoap that will likely leave hearing people scratching their heads. The girls of Deaf U discuss the “Deaf elite” clique. Deaf people have cliques?
Yes, just as hearing groups break off into a hierarchy, so do Deaf people. One of the students explains that the “Deaf elite” refers to families where deafness has continued for “4 or 5 generations.”
Another girl signs she is considered elite because her “first words were sign [language.]”
The Netflix Show Will Destroy the ‘Deaf and Dumb’ Stereotype
Despite the increasing representation of Deaf people on television or reality shows, the majority of Americans are hearing. And many of them hold some pretty outdated beliefs about deafness and being Deaf in general. For example, many people don’t seem to understand that full deafness means no amount of shouting will make the Deaf person hear you.
The old “deaf and dumb” stereotype is still subconsciously held. The same girl who said she is “elite” faces shock when she tells people her mother is a doctor. “You think we’re all clueless with no money and no house?” she cracks wise in the new clip, People reports.
Breaking down stereotypes is a huge part of what Nyle DiMarco does with his platform. Not only did he win ANTM, he went on to dance his way to a Mirrorball Trophy on Dancing With The Stars. Yes, Deaf people dance and listen to music, or the vibrations of the music, rather.
If you hate watching things on Netflix with subtitles, Deaf U is not for you. Most of the students are communicating solely in American Sign Language, without using their voices.
Deaf U premieres Friday, October 9, only on Netflix. Follow us on social media for all the latest TV and streaming news!
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