Seeing Voices follows three different members of the deaf community in Vienna. The Hager family have a small son, all three of them are deaf. While the parents are sure that their son should grow up as part of their community, the doctors keep suggesting cochlear implants. Ayse comes from a difficult family situation, but she’s ready to start her way into adult life and learnin a job. Helene is a member of parliament, fighting for her community that way.
Seeing Voices is an interesting look at the deaf community here that touches on a lot of issues without ever becoming overloaded or overbearing.
I’m not entirely new to the deaf culture as a phenomenon (though I’m not part of it), so some of the issues the movie introduces were not new to me. But nevertheless, there were things I was able to learn and get a deeper look at. At the same time, I’m pretty sure that even people who never heard about such a thing as deaf culture would get a decent introduction by this documentary.
Kowalski also managed to find excellent people to follow, all with very different issues that shape their day-to-day life – and of which their (lack of) hearing is only a small part: Deciding what’s best for your child and how to make sure they grow up well; shaping your future and figuring out what it is you want to do; getting from legislation to action and actually improving lives.
And yet, we also get a clear picture of where ableism affects all of their lives and how some of the issues stem from a society that barely acknowledges the needs of deaf (and otherwise disabled) people.
It’s an insightful, charming documentary that makes time pass extremely quickly. I really enjoyed watching it – and learning through it.