Helen Keller National Center works with Schrieber to present “Feeling Through”

Asher Charno, News Editor

Before winter break, Schreiber students witnessed a touching documentary film called “Feeling Through.”  This award winning film was made in partnership with the Helen Keller National Center  (HKNC), which is located in Port Washington.  The 18-minute long film was the first to feature a deaf-blind actor in a leading role.  

“It was extremely important for students to understand that human connections can be made even in the most difficult circumstances.  I enjoyed the opportunity to watch this film and discuss with the actors and creators themselves.  It was an eye-opening experience for me,” said junior Kayla Caplin.  

After students witnessed the film in their English classes, they watched a documentary covering the creation of and work behind the film.  Then students were offered the opportunity to speak directly with the filmmakers and film coordinators.  This took place via Youtube chat on Dec. 15 in a Q&A format, where students could submit their questions, comments, and insights to hear directly from the people who made the film.  The panel participants consisted of filmmaker Doug Roland, Helen Keller Services Acting CEO Sue Ruzenski, Helen Keller National Center Executive Director Chris Woodfill, and Deaf-Blind actor Robert Tarango.  This format is a part of the “Feeling Through Experience,” which consists of the film, documentary, and then a discussion about the broader elements of the deaf-blind community.  

“I thought the film was fascinating and poignant.  I loved how it explored communication and finding human connection despite barriers.  The documentary also paralleled these themes, and I especially liked getting to watch the live interactions between the panel and the interpreters,” said junior Hannah Brooks.  

The film was based on an experience that creator Doug Roland had in New York City a few years back.  In Aug. 2014, Roland encountered a man named Artemio who was deaf and blind and was holding a sign indicating that he needed help crossing the street.  They spent the next few hours together, communicating by writing letters on each other’s palms.   

“Artemio left a lasting impression on me, not merely because he was the first Deaf-Blind person I had ever met, but, even more so, because he was a kind, charismatic person with whom I felt a mutual bond.  I was immediately inspired to write “Feeling Through,” about the unlikely connection between a teen without a home and a Deaf-Blind man, but it would be seven years until I aligned with the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) – a partnership that allowed me to tell this story with the authenticity it deserves,” said creator Doug Roland.   

Roland first wanted to build a strong relationship with the Deaf-Blind community and reached out to Sue Ruzenski to collaborate on this project.  While he spent years connecting with  Artemio, Roland worked with HKNC and actor Robert Tarango to portray the powerful experience he had with him.   

“Working with Doug on this project has been an absolute pleasure from the start,” said Ruzenski in an interview with Island Now.  

This event at Schreiber was provided in part by a grant from The Ed. Foundation, which is dedicated to providing experiences beyond the class curriculum.  According to The Ed. Foundation, the grant also included a curriculum highlighting “the power of human connection despite our differences.”  For more information about the event and the experience, visit https://theedfoundation.org/