Like the main character Wahid, I’ve had high frequency hearing loss since I was born. After my preschool teacher noticed I wasn’t speaking in class, I was fitted with hearing aids to catch up — but even with the aid of modern technology, I struggled to enunciate high frequency sounds like “s” without lisping and could barely make out the words in conversations around me. My impairment was treated like incompetence, and in order to protect myself from insults and pity reminding me of my handicap, I built up a wall to distance myself from others.
Through years of hearing aid upgrades and speech pathology, I kept hiding my hearing aids, plastic reminders on my ears of what set me behind everyone I met. The path to accepting myself came from exploring other forms of communication, using body language and presence to express myself when words couldn’t. When I realized that listening meant more than simply “hearing”, I felt like the walls I put around me could be chipped away.
To center hearing-impaired audiences, we endeavored to make a film that was truly accessible. Captions are burned into the film so that no matter where it is screened, the audience won’t miss a word of the script. We also wanted to ensure that audiences could see true representation of a character with an impairment, something rarely shown on-screen. My choice to play the main character was a statement to show that hard of hearing people can be the center of our own stories.
In telling the story of my own self-acceptance, I hope this film will empower my peers in the hearing-impaired community to tell their stories as well.