In honour of International Week of the Deaf, we're taking a look at 10 of the most talented and need-to-know deaf content creators on everywhere from TikTok to YouTube.
Not only do many of them cover issues regarding accessibility and what it's like to live as a deaf person, but comedy, beauty and family.
And social media networks have taken notice and finally stepped up to the plate, with TikTok ramping up its accessibility features and offering auto-captions as of earlier this summer. While Instagram also recently introduced closed captions for IGTV, YouTube's auto-captions are still uneven and often out of sync, leaving a lot to be desired in terms of inclusivity, something which many of these creators themselves are advocating for.
Until we reach that state, these talented individuals aren't letting any of that get in their way. Check them out below.
One of the most charming and underrated personalities on YouTube, Kellgren-Fozard covers it all: vintage fashion, vlogging about living with chronic illness, and life as a new mom with wife Claudia. The British creator, who is deaf, visually impaired and lives with a nerve disorder, has over 800,000 followers, and has built a community that can ask questions on just about everything, and learn a few things along the way.
With only a year on TikTok, Smith has made a massive impression, bringing a spotlight to an overlooked language: Black American Sign Language (BASL). According to a recent New York Times report, 50 per cent of deaf Black people use BASL, and Smith has made it a point to celebrate that fact and the extra "seasoning" it offers. Her videos offer anything from TikTok trends, daily-life vlogs, beauty routines, apartment decor ideas, and just a ton of hilarity.
One of the most popular deaf creators on the internet, Poynter, 28, makes content about deaf awareness, accessibility/closed captioning awareness, mental health, feminism, and more. She struck a chord in 2018 when she incited the #NoMoreCRAPtions movement in response to YouTube's poor quality of auto-captioning. And she's got her very own list of must-see deaf YouTubers.
Marshall, 21, was born hard of hearing and became profoundly deaf in her teens. She went viral in 2019 after posting a TikTok in which she excitedly shared that, in the span of one "special" day, she encountered three people who signed to her in American Sign Language (ASL) – at the bank, at Starbucks, and at a pretzel stand. "Everyone signed! It was like a perfect world. It's like a utopia," she says in the video, which goes to show how meaningful a space like this can be, encouraging viewers to learn ASL. All her videos are a delight, especially when she covers songs using ASL. Her YouTube channel, "Chrissy Can't Hear You," is also worth a visit, which includes videos about raising a deaf child and bedazzling a hearing aid.
These two buddies are an adorable comedy duo, whose routines include pranks and skits with a fair bit of education snuck in. Their most popular schtick, though, is answering viewer questions in cheeky ways, with everything from "Do you sign in your sleep?" to "How do y'all know when microwave popcorn is done?" to my personal favourite, "Are y'all a couple?" Important questions! Their TikTok channel has over 1.2-million followers and is calling your name.
Watters went viral just a year ago with her "Deaf Kardashians" TikTok series, in which she does truly hilarious impressions of the sisters, which, frankly, are awards-worthy. She also hit it big with her video "Deaf Ears In A Hearing World," which currently has nine-million likes. Her mystifying ASL song covers are musts, and have helped her rake in a whopping 4.9-million followers. We love to see it.
British YouTuber Jazzy (a.k.a. Jasmine Whipps), whose first language is British Sign Language (BSL), talks everything, including living life as a deaf person, travel, family, and all the usual YouTuber go-tos, like room tours, morning routines, and fashion hauls. Her goal is "to share all the positives of life in the deaf community and enable hearing people to find out more about deaf awareness and sign language."
If it's more of the music you're a fan of, Jones is your man. His videos largely feature ASL covers and lessons. You can even sign up for personal language classes with him as your teacher. The young creator has over 435,000 followers, and might I suggest his video on how to flirt using ASL? Truly, he's thought of everything.
As his bio reads, "What I lack in hearing, I make up for in content." Conheady covers living as a deaf and gay person, but he's also got a ton of cute skits and educational videos. The vlogs where he shares what it's like to work as a deaf barista are particularly moving. The 22-year-old New Yorker has over 250,000 followers and, frankly, could use more.
A deaf artist and craniofacial advocate, Pleasants is one of the most endearing TikTokers around, with over 353,000 followers. In 2017, he did a TEDx Talk where he shared his story, and how he found hope by finding a community. One that is alive on TikTok, where he discusses disability advocacy and performs skits. Warning: he will have you ugly laughing.