Journalism student creates Deaf and Hearing Network for people in deaf community

(Chris Garay/DD)
The Deaf and Hearing Network combines vocal news, signed news and news with subtitles to provide broadcast content to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Anchors for the network are deaf as well. (Chris Garay/DD)

In families that have both hearing and deaf members, there is often a communication gap when it comes to broadcast news.

Deaf family members have to read the captions and don’t always get the same information, because the captions don’t exactly match what’s being said. But journalism sophomore Peyton Gallovich said she wanted to change the communication gap.

“I see this need, and I think that I can fill it,” Gallovich said. “So, I got together with people who thought this was a necessary thing too, and here we are.”

Gallovich told her sign-language professor Dyan Sue Kovacs about her plan, and the two of them created the Deaf and Hearing Network, which they describe as a meld of the three types of television currently available.

“Either you will see vocal news, signed-only news or news with subtitles,” Gallovich said. “I thought, why not just combine the three?”

About two or three out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard of hearing, according to the National Institute of Health website. Nine out of every 10 children born deaf have parents who can hear.

Gallovich and Kovacs started putting together the Deaf and Hearing Network in October, and they started filming in January. Their seventh episode, which was filmed earlier this week, aired Thursday.

Lindsay Feuer, a teacher at Phoenix Day School for the Deaf, shows DHN to her students. She said there are television shows and movies that have signers but no news shows with signers. Feuer said when she was growing up, she was never able to watch the news because no one signed.

“My students are very excited to watch DHN because it’s not something that we usually get to see,” Feuer said through Video Relay Service, a service that allows those who use sign language to communicate over video with hearing people through a sign language interpreter.

The network consists of deaf anchors, only one of whom had previous anchor experience. The anchors sign the news and Gallovich speaks what the female anchors are signing, while another male speaks what the male anchors are signing.

Kovacs, who anchors, said the network looked for clear signers for the anchor position because they want to see the deaf community grow.

“So much of the deaf world is not aware of what is going on in the world because of the communication gap,” Kovacs said. “Now they can see it and understand what is happening.”

Gallovich said she hopes that over time, the crew will be run entirely by deaf people.

“We would still have interpreters, but the hearing jobs would be in smaller portions,” Gallovich said.

Deaf and Hearing Network is one of the first of its kind in the country, Gallovich said, so they are still working out a lot of kinks.

“People suggest changes and we make them right away, and people seem to notice when we do,” Gallovich said.

DHN is hoping to start a nonprofit so they can expand their program and be able to start filming more than once every two weeks, Gallovich said.

Currently, DHN can be watched on four city channels, including Phoenix, Chandler, Prescott and Glendale. The are also available on the Deaf and Hearing Network YouTube channel. The shows are filmed twice a month, but reruns are aired regularly.

Contact the reporter at Andrea.Daly@asu.edu