The infamous Ben Mitchell, in Eastenders contracted meningitis and was left partially deaf as a result. I mean fair play for including a ‘deaf’ character in a major TV soap..
Especially a ‘deaf’ character that doesn’t lip read, struggle to pick up the conversations and most of all, has a disappearing hearing aid.
The disappearing hearing aid
In the beginning, the hearing aid was visible and it was refreshing to see a character represent deaf people, although the social representation is poor – Eastenders have not included factors such as missing out on group conversations, especially with the Mitchell family being HUGE or not being able to use the phone to call.. which Ben has done MANY TIMES.
But then after a scene in 2016 which showed Ben replying to a ringleader of thugs – ‘So as long as I suddenly go deaf, blind and stupid so far as you lot are concerned; , it looked like I wasn’t the only confused person.
I mean, Eastenders, doesn’t that kind of play into the stereotypes of Deaf people, therefore making it harder for Deaf people in the UK to be seen – especially those who can’t hear without hearing aids
Imagine someone quotes Ben Mitchell as a reason for their stereotypical views – ‘ That Ben Mitchell can hear without his hearing aid, so you can too right?’
Now the new character doesn’t even HAVE a hearing aid.. the irony.
Not just Eastenders
I mean lets talk about the new girl in Casualty, Jade Lovell….
I’m sure in the beginning, she was introduced as a ‘deaf’ character.. but yet again, she’s not even struggling to lip read anyone in a fast paced environment like a hospital??? I can’t be the only one who’s picked this up
ALSO – why is it that the only ‘deaf’ character has to be portrayed in a ‘stupid’ way – Jade is seen to be the one who always messes up and gets things wrong.
Casualty producers need to explore the actual communication and social barriers of someone who is ‘DEAF’ and working in a busy hospital. Instead of giving us Jade, who is not an accurate representation and just feeds into the stigma around deaf people in the UK.
WHEN are we actually going to see ACTUAL deaf people play deaf characters – like Oscar in Hollyoaks who truly represents ‘deaf’ children; he even wears a cochlear and is consistently represented as a ‘deaf’ character through . Hollyoaks incorporates both BSL and Speech which shows the diversity of the deaf community. Hats off to Hollyoaks, but the rest of the UK TV soaps need to up their game.