Stories, Musings & The Vision Thing

Between Sound and Silence

If you’re like me, you probably take your senses for granted. I rarely think about them, which is why the video Between Sound and Silence captivated me.

Most of us use seeing, hearing, taste, touch and smell to help us experience and make sense of our world. With our eyes, we can see and understand what lies before us. If you close your eyes… there’s nothing there… you can imagine what it might be like if you couldn’t see. And with hearing?

Our ears help us understand the world, too. Imagine watching a movie with the sound turned off… you’d be watching a silent picture without words to guide you. You might be able to figure out what’s happening through body language, but you’d miss the nuance, emotion and meaning that sound conveys.

If I thought about it at all, I assumed being deaf meant you were living within a silent movie. It’s much more complicated than that, which brings me to the video I’d like to share with you.

From Silence to Sound

Irene Taylor Brodsky

Between Sound and Silence was made by award-winning filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky . It features people who are deaf or hearing impaired who’ve become able to hear via cochlear implants. The issue of implants is controversial, I learned, because there’s a whole language and culture around deafness. People without hearing share their own special world and fellowship. Brodsky’s video introduces us to 14 people who use the implants to travel the space between silence and sound.


In a NYT article, she explains:

“They had navigated the frontiers of deafness, disability and the human experience. They spoke to us about identity, sexual intimacy and coming of age somewhere between sound and silence. And they talked about the sometimes, wrenching decision of whether to hear or not.”


Between Sound and Silence

Take a look and see what you think. (I apologize for the ad that precedes the video).

Some Observations

Between Sound and Silence is very well structured. First, your ear notices people speaking as if English is not their primary language, then you see the implants they use to help them hear. You learn how hearing themself speak affects their speech and ability to communicate. Then, they help you understand how they try to flourish in a world where the ability to hear is assumed. As I watched, it was like being part of a fascinating conversation. It flowed so easily from one comment to the next.

More than anything, the people you meet in the video are so appealing and eager to share their experiences. What makes it work so well is the filmmaker’s ability as an interviewer – she’s there, behind the scenes, helping everyone just hang out with the camera. She uses a deft hand as she seamlessly weaves together their comments. Irene Taylor Brodsky’s documentaries have won many awards and you can find out more about her here.

This piece also made me think about how easy it is to take our abilities for granted. And that sometimes, it’s nice to just stop for a moment and think about how they make our lives all the richer for being there.

Your comments are always welcome.




Under the Cover of Darkness: Capturing the Journey


Gordon Parks – “Camera Could be a Weapon”


  1. Hope Hazen

    Hi Dan:

    I am so touched by this video. Thank you so much. We have a fabulous school called The SUmmit SPeech School for the deaf here in Summit (about 20 minutes from New Vernon) and I have done some fundraising for them over the years. The coklear implant is an amazing piece of technology and it is so wonderful to see these little kids getting it and hearing and speaking so well.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Hugs, Hope

  2. Joyce

    Dan, thanks so much for sharing this. It was, I thought, a stunning picture of many of the aspects of the absence of hearing. I am going to share this with a friend who has a genetic type of hearing loss. Joyce

  3. melissa mial

    Hi Dan, this is a powerful presentation of a world I had little understanding of. Thank you for sharing it and for your thoughtful and engaging commentary. We always look forward to reading your posts. Take care, Missy

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