Two Deaf Travellers
15 Oct 2021
Raabia Hussain, William Horsefield
Language barriers are broken in more ways than one in Two Deaf Travellers, a short film following two travellers across Europe, who are, well… deaf. Raabia Hussain and William Horsefield demonstrate the unrecognised complexities of relying on sign language to communicate in foreign cultures, as they journey to Italy, Greece and Cyprus in search of an exciting getaway.
Raabia and William’s trip takes them across 3 countries, multiple cities, and more sights, bars and restaurants then you can count on both hands. Along the way they encounter a number of difficulties communicating with locals due to their hearing impediment – relying on a mixture of sign language and more primitive pointing and gesturing – with results varying from frustrating to amusing.
The jovial and light-hearted tone of the documentary, and the upbeat nature of the hosts, makes the film a wholesome affair. But amongst the difficulties the pair experience, is also an interesting lesson for audiences and an important insight into what it is like to live with deafness. There is an undeniable sense from the film that the world is designed for those who can hear, and far few of us are prepared for those who lack the ability to. Despite every foreign local the pair come across having a friendly and welcoming attitude, they still lack the ability to communicate in their preferred manner. It is easy to empathise with Will and Raabia, and for the millions of deaf or hard of hearing in the same situation.
Despite the documentary focusing largely on deafness, it is also a strong statement in of itself that disability does not stand in the way of producing entertaining and informative content. Will and Raabia’s journeys take them to some fascinating locations around Naples, Athens, Limassol and more, including catacombs, shipwrecks and waterfalls. They are always armed with interesting factoids and trivia for their adventures, which will enlighten audiences as well as entertain. The pair’s chemistry also brings a sparkle to the short and adds a friendly touch to the piece – an essential element of any good travel doc.
Similarly, the film is well shot and produced, although fails to really stand out in comparison to other travel documentaries. The locations are scenic, and largely done justice by the camerawork of the film’s star subjects. But for seasoned travel enthusiasts, it is unlikely to cover any new ground. However, given that the true purpose of the short is to inform audiences of the realities of deafness, and travelling with the disability, this hardly detracts from the piece’s objectives.
A short and sweet documentary which gives a tiny taste of life with deafness, Two Deaf Travellers is an invigorating and heart-warming watch which acts as a gentle lesson for how we could all do with increasing our awareness of sign-language – no matter what our mother tongue may be.