BBC4's 'Life And Deaf' Provides A Unique Insight Into Life Without Hearing

The programme has no voiceover or soundtrack.

Watching BBC4's new documentary 'Life and Deaf' requires concentration.

If you look at your phone for just a few seconds you'll miss part of the conversation, just as you would if you were deaf.

The immersive, experiential film follows four members of St John’s Deaf Club and aims to reflect what life is like for them every day as deaf adults.

All four communicate using sign language and the programme is subtitled, without any soundtrack or audio commentary.


The hour-long programme features Tina Costi and her husband, Marios, alongside Marios' football-mad brother, Memnos, and their friend, Abigail.

Tina and Marios are expecting a baby and they're yet to find out if their child will be deaf like them, or able to hear.

"Deaf or hearing I'm not bothered, as long as it's healthy," Tina says.

"I'm sure the midwife will say 'I'm really, really sorry but your baby is deaf'.

"I wouldn't care! They always deliver the news like it's a negative thing. They always say it like it's something sad."

The documentary also highlights some of the additional challenges Tina will face during birth because of her deafness.

For example, she meets a midwife alongside an interpreter who can sign when discussing her birthing plan.

The three of them must decide how they are going to communicate during birth if Tina feels too tired to sign herself.

Tina, who also has an 11-year-old son, insists it wasn't a problem with her previous birth.

Meanwhile Tina's brother-in-law has a challenge of his own to conquer.

As manager of the St John’s Deaf football team, Memnos eats, sleeps and breathes football and is determined to lead his team to victory at the English Deaf Cup.

The programme provides a unique insight into the (largely silent) world of deaf football, where the game relies on sign language from the players and referee.

Finally, at 30 years old Abigail is considering leaving the "deaf world" she has always known behind.

Her entire family are deaf and proudly trace their deaf heritage back eight generations.

But Abigail is looking into undergoing surgery to have a cochlear implant fitted to help her deteriorating hearing and also to better connect with her hearing friends.

There's no certainly that it will work and it’s a controversial decision among her family.

The documentary shows Abigail in regular conflict with her loved ones, but she simply says: "I want to be in the hearing world".

One thing remains clear though is whatever option she chooses, she will always be welcome at St John's Deaf Club.

Above all else, the documentary is about a community who support each other through thick and thin.

As Memnos says: "This club is about family, friendship and respect."

'Life and Deaf' is on BBC4 Monday 4 July at 9pm.

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