See Hear: When deaf videos go viral
- 28 May 2014
The tools to film, edit and upload video are cheaper and more accessible than ever before. A smartphone and a laptop with basic editing software are all you need to create something which can be seen and shared round the world by millions.
Online video is particularly suited to deaf people, who can record videos in their first language - sign language - and upload them at the touch of a button.
They are also a great way of getting a particular message across to a wider audience, and some deaf people have used this to good effect. Here are three of our favourite deaf viral videos.
When Nick Beese filmed a simple chat between his partner Lilli and his two-year-old daughter Ava, he had no idea that it would go on to register more than a million views. But this video is different from most home videos in one important respect. Both Lilli and Ava are deaf, and signing to one another.
It's not particularly flashy - the camera is set up and left to record. There are no cutaways, no special effects, and no punchline. So why did everybody love it?
Deaf filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne believes that AVA Dinner Chat's success is down to our interest in all family life. He says it had such a big impact because we learn something: "A lot of hearing people didn't realise that many children in deaf families can communicate fully in sign language at 24 months."
Sometimes the most impromptu moments can be the most powerful. Deaf man Stephon Williams was standing just a few feet away from Barack Obama at a rally, watching him come closer while shaking hands with other people in the crowd. When the president caught his eye, Williams instinctively said "I am proud of you" in American Sign Language, to which Obama immediately signed "thank you" in return.
Did President Obama even know what Williams had said to him? Did he spot the other lady who signed "I love you!" soon afterwards? Who knows. It's still a lovely moment which was captured and shared with more than a million people.
Ben Green, a hearing actor and comedian whose YouTube channel boasts several dozen comedy sketches, is in no doubt about the importance of online video for his career. "It got me an agent. It got me stuff in front of production companies. I've had meetings about sitcoms I've written. I think if you make online videos it shows that you've got passion for whatever you're making, and it shows you've got ideas and shows you're proactive."
Charlie Swinbourne's latest film, Four Deaf Yorkshiremen Go To Blackpool is now online in high quality, but originated as a low budget YouTube video. He says that making his films available online has been "massive" for his career and introduced his work to deaf people outside the UK.
These and many more online films are discussed on See Hear's online video special. Watch it at 10:30, BBC Two, on Wednesday 28 May, and on iPlayer soon after that.