A film by two local actors has been nominated for an Academy Award following International success.
‘The Silent Child’, written by and starring Rachel Shenton and directed by Chris Overton, received an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Film last week, when the final nominations were announced.
The film follows the struggle of four-year-old Libby, as she tries to communicate with other children at school. That’s until a social worker, played by Rachel, teaches her sign language.
The struggles of communication through sign language is close to Rachel’s heart, as her Father became deaf following a bout of Chemotherapy.
The former Stoke-on-Trent college student was inspired to write the film, to raise awareness after having volunteered with local charity, dDeaflinks.
Ruth Woodcock, manager of dDeaflinks in Staffordshire, said: “Rachel worked on reception and helped out generally within the groups because she wanted to improve her sign language skills.
“After she became successful, Rachel kept in touch with the charity as she was very keen to support us and always has been an advocate for deaf people”.
dDeaflinks has been based in Stoke since 1868 and provides multiple services for the deaf community which covers interpreting services, trading opportunities and also support services such as overcoming the language barrier.
Rachel came to the charity and asked them to support her project.”We were very keen to do so because obviously it’s a cause very close to our heart,” said Ruth.
“No way did I ever think it would go to the Oscars. I mean, I thought it would do really well but it’s just mind-blowing that it has gone as far as that.
“It is now a worldwide spectacle that everyone is going to witness.
“This is very important information and if you see what’s taking place, you see the impact it has on a child that doesn’t have the appropriate support.
“If a child doesn’t have the appropriate support from the family it can be very isolating and detrimental to a child.
“Whereas if a deaf child has the support in place, there should be no reason why they shouldn’t succeed like anybody else.
“As far as children are concerned, it is a case that one size doesn’t fit all.
“Deafness does affect every area of life really and people don’t realise that, communication barriers are always an issue obviously because the hearing community don’t have deaf awareness, there is a lack of understanding of what the deaf community needs.”
Ruth hopes that the message of The Silent Child will hopefully change people’s attitude and that they will choose to learn sign language.
“Sign language could go onto the curriculum within schools, which would be absolutely amazing, and also encourage people to do deaf awareness courses and if that achieves all those things, wow, what an inclusive society that would be”, Ruth said.
You can watch the trailer for The Silent Child below, and The 90th Academy Awards take place on March 4.