Deaf people and Deaf culture have been seen more and more in our pop culture, and with celebrities like Marlee Matlin and Nyle DiMarco (#RedefiningDance), more and more people are realizing the importance of Deaf representation. Even Doctor Who managed to skirt cultural appropriation in their last series—in the episodes “Under the Lake”/”Before the Flood”, writer Toby Whithouse had wanted to include a character who could lip-read, but rather than write a hearing character who knew how to lip-read, he decided to include an actual Deaf character after remembering a writing festival he’d attended where including roles for characters with disabilities had been emphasized.
However, many writers, unfortunately, don’t come to the same conclusion as Whithouse, and many, for a number of reasons, don’t know much about Deaf culture or Deaf people. Fortunately, today’s web crush is a great educational and entertaining resource on just that.
I’ve been following ASL Stew ever since one of their cute relationship videos crossed my Tumblr dash:
ASL Stew is run by Jill and Jenna, two queer ladies set on educating the world about Deaf culture. Jill, who is hearing, is a certified ASL interpreter, while Jenna, her wife, is Deaf. Through their YouTube channel and blog, the two women talk about things like Deaf History Month (ongoing!), culture differences between hearing and Deaf people, American Sign Language, interpreting, and even cooking. The videos are very accessible—all are subtitled and many have a voiceover for when one or both ladies are using sign. Not only are the videos informative, they’re also filmed in a fun, cheery manner that’s very welcoming to a new viewer. They really showcase the diversity of the Deaf community as well—they often have guest videos from different Deaf people to teach about their own aspects of the Deaf community. Check out this great video on Deaf cinema, which is part of ASL Stew’s Deaf History Month series:
If you’re hearing and you want to learn more about Deaf culture and issues, ASL Stew is definitely where you want to go. With so many resources on the internet these days, I hope that more writers will start thinking about accurate and engaging Deaf representation in future media.