Alicia De Barry: What would happen to Deaf people if movie scenes came true?

Posted on September 17, 2016

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When I watch films, sometimes I wonder what would happen if a deaf person had to cope with what happens in some of the scenes. Would we survive a zombie attack? Or a horror scene out of Scream?

Here’s a few potential scenes… and what I think might happen if I had to deal with each of them.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 11.24.21Zombie apocalypse

This is fairly obvious; however, I do think it depends on how deaf you are.

I think I would die almost immediately. I would not be able to hear the zombie until it was almost on top of me.

In films they tend to get the unsuspecting victim from behind and so unless I grew eyes on the back of my head I wouldn’t be able to keep up the constant looking around. Night time would be even worse as I would have the added disadvantage of not being able to see.

Another point to consider is that some of us wear hearing aids, and depend on them a lot. What happens when the hearing batteries run out during a sustained zombie attack?

I could go to the hospital and steal some batteries  (note: is it stealing if we are in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, or a means of survival?). But, what about when my hearing aids break? Unless I bump into an audiologist I’m doomed.

Verdict: DOOMED!

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 11.24.36‘Scream’ style phone call

I am not a horror film fan. If the rating is an 18 then I tend to shy away from them. I even struggle with a 15 rating.

There is one scene that these films appear to have in common and that is the phone call. I remember Drew Barrymore being on the phone to the murderer in Scream and at first the conversation was fine, a bit creepy, but nothing to get upset about.

Then of course he terrified her and the game was up. It is this scene where the killer and the audience get their kicks. Playing games with the victim, and manipulating their fear as well as building up suspense.

Now, if this happened to me I think my deafness would actually save my life. First, I do not think that I would answer the phone at all.

I hate talking on it and whenever I can I get my husband, or my family to do it for me. If I do ever have to talk on the phone then it can be extremely frustrating for the person talking to me as they have to repeat themselves numerous times.

So, if I was babysitting a little cherub and the phone rang, a fifteen minute call would result in the would-be-killer giving up because I would just not be playing along.

However, there are many other scenes in scary films that would mean definite death for me. I cannot hear creaks and footfalls until it is too late and so I would not hear the killer until he/she is upon me. As with the Zombie situation the darkness would decrease my chances of survival even more.

Verdict: Fair chance of survival, for a short time 

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 11.24.56Having to sing in tune in a musical

I am tone deaf. When I watch shows such as X-Factor or BGT unless it is glaringly obvious I have to ask my husband if the person is a good singer or not.

I cannot hear melodies, or high tones, and I most certainly cannot hear key changes (nor do I understand what they are. I have a different key for my car than I do for my house does that count?).

The only musical sounds that I can really hear are bass and drums. Lyrics are another thing that I struggle with. There was one time when I was singing along to Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer, except I wasn’t as my now ex-friend laughingly pointed out to me.

So, all this means that I would not be a harmonious part of the musical. I would miss my cue, mix up my words, and just not hear the music.

Verdict: Out of tune disaster

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 11.25.10Spy films

Well for me this one is obvious. Firstly, I would not be able to hear on the secret radio that they put in their ears.

This means that I would not be able to do a covert operation whereby I am spying on the corrupt minister of a small country that plans to buy arms and send us all sky high, especially not if I was, as they most often are, at a glamorous evening do, the music alone would make it very difficult.

James Bond is always attending these types of affairs, and the first time we saw Jack in action in Mission Impossible is when the team were performing an operation at a delightful party. The conversation for me would go like this:

HQ: Suspect approaching from the left, …… follow him ……. as he is going to the …..

Me: On it. *starts following suspect … into the men’s room* Well this is awkward …

HQ: *@!? We said don’t follow him!

Other parts of the job that I would fail at are:

  1. Not hearing the crunch of the glass that I surreptitiously put down to alert me to the enemy.
  2. Not hearing the click of the gun behind me to alert me to the presence of the bad guys.
  3. Needing to stop and change my battery at the worst possible moment, most probably when the big deal is going down.


So, this is an example of only a very small selection of the genres that are out there and I am sure in lots of other genres I would certainly survive.

In science fiction films I would do well mainly because apparently all illnesses and disabilities are a thing of the past!

Well, I am off to plan my escape should any of these scenarios ever come true, I suggest you do the same.

Alicia is 70% deaf and wears hearing aids. She comes from Milton Keynes and lives with her husband who is hearing, and her cat, Mickey. She works in a study centre with Six Formers and loves it. She has an MA in English Literature which she says “is great because I I love books, books, books, and Earl Grey tea.”

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