Why was Gallaudet so Reluctant to Post the “GALLAUDET” Film?

Posted on November 18, 2010

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Anyone who has seen the 8-minute masterpiece that is “GALLAUDET” can attest to its hope-inspiring message and the way one feels immediately uplifted after watching the film. 

A film collaboration by Wayne Betts, Jr., Ryan Commerson, and Braam Jordaan, “GALLAUDET” veers away from the old boxed-ear story and into the world of humanity, where our lives intertwine and flow into a greater consciousness. “GALLAUDET” becomes a safe haven that propels individuals into a breadth of opportunities to contribute, where students are taught to strive to reach out and share their very humane souls with a world that doesn’t seem to know that side of “deaf.”

The film is a rooted tree that grows tall and blossoms with rich greenery. It is a clear, starry sky upon which we gaze and feel simultaneously big and small. Timeless.

For me, watching the film was like shedding old skin, which I hadn’t realized I was still wearing.

How astonishing, then, to find that “GALLAUDET” was nowhere to be found on the website of my alma mater—despite the fact that, according to sources, Gallaudet University contributed $25,000 to make the film. With over 50,000 hits within a month of its release, the film clearly resonated with many individuals.

So why did Gallaudet University shy away from publishing the film on its website?

In asking the creators of the film, I got a response that confounded me. There were key players at Gallaudet, they shared, who felt that the film was not inclusive enough of cochlear implants and spoken English.

How does one take a movie completely irrelevant to hearing technology and language choices and make it about just that? The joy of simply “being” once again shoved aside in the face of disability ideology, which continues to barricade any form of progress.

It is products like “GALLAUDET” that address The Gallaudet Syndrome and offer a new perspective, a new road to travel.

That old skin—which I had just recently been cleansed of? It feels like someone shoved it back on. Ill fitting, a sour taste—that’s how I feel about my alma mater now.

And yet, Betts Jr., Commerson, and Jordaan have created something so inspiring that, even after more-of-the-same-old-disappointment I am left with a ball of optimism stubbornly seated inside of my chest. I am so grateful to the three (as well as Dr. H-Dirksen Bauman, Gallaudet University Deaf Studies Professor, who produced the film) for their willingness to share their talents and vision. I hope they know that their work has made an impact.

Produced by: Dr. H-Dirksen Bauman; Directed by Ryan Commerson
Director of Photography & Editing: Wayne Betts, Jr.
Animation/Visual Effects: Braam Jordaan

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