Student Papers

Brendan Curran


“Connecting the Dots”, is a documentary that follows a man who encounters a blind/deaf man one day at a crosswalk and sets out to create a film from his experience called Feeling Through.  The extraordinary aspect of this documentary is the writer/producer wanted to use deaf/blind actors to portray the real people in the movie.  When movies about deaf/blind people have been made, normally there is not an actor portraying them who is actually deaf and or blind.  There were a lot of obstacles in creating a movie using a true deaf and blind person.

Doug Roland was the director and inspiration for this documentary.  It all started when he was confronted by a deaf/blind man on a street corner one day.   He helped the man cross the street and then with no way to communicate with him, he lost touch with him.  He decided to reach out to the Helen Keller National Center for their help, in order for, his team to really understand what it was like to be blind and deaf. The people at the Helen Keller National Center were very skeptical at first, but Doug was persistent and kept pitching his idea.  Doug’s biggest goal was to find the man that he helped cross the street.  While the Helen Keller association began helping him look,  they also agreed to participate in the documentary.  Doug wanted the actor who was going to play the deaf-blind man to be deaf and blind. They started interviewing people for the role. They look at many people, but one guy named Robert Tarango, deaf-blind, really stood out to them. Robert Tarango has been deaf all of his life but started to lose his sight later in life.   Robert, the deaf and blind actor chosen for the part, was excited and willing to help.   It was hard for them to communicate, but they ended up finding a way.

American Sign Language does not exactly translate word for word to English.  Therefore, Interpreting and translating can be very difficult. Interpretation happens when the interpreter is trying their best to figure out what is being said and then passing it along to the deaf person.  The interpreter has to figure out the meaning, context, and essence of what someone is trying to say. Translation occurs when you are trying to directly say what someone is saying.  An example of an obstacle they overcame while filming happened when they would have to interpret and translate to Robert, the actor.  Since Robert is legally blind, the film crew would hold a light up to the interpreter to help him see from the interpreter what he is supposed to be doing.

Doug wanted to reconnect with the man he encountered, who he later learned was named Arti.  Arti was the inspiration for this movie.  The story of how he met Arti was, one day he saw  a man on the street with a sign that said, “tap me if you can help me cross the street.” He helped him cross the street. He wrote on his hand letters to communicate with him because the man was blind and deaf.  Unfortunately,  he lost touch with the man. This is when and why he contacted the Helen Keller National Center. He wanted to make a documentary about his encounter with someone that was deaf and blind to show awareness. At first, the Helen Keller association could not find the man. Doug and his team, with the help of the Helen Keller center, began to film the movie. They end up finding Arti much later, and Doug goes to see him. He communicates with him by writing in his hand and tells him about the movie.

This documentary is a wonderful documentary to help show how deaf and blind people can communicate, and why it is important to have deaf people portray themselves in movies.  Making this happen creates a documentary that is more realistic and relatable. A deaf person goes through it every day and truly knows what it’s like. Someone who is pretending to be deaf or blind, can not really understand what it is like.

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