Deaf Gain: the benefits of being Deaf


There are many amazing things about being Deaf; parts of life both big and small that are actually better for Deaf people than for hearing people.

In this episode of Our Deaf Ways, meet Drisana Levitzke-Gray and Matthew Norman, two Deaf Aussie expats living in different continents.


In this episode of Our Deaf Ways: Deaf Gain

  • How Deaf people from different parts of the world that use different sign languages can communicate.
  • The strong connections the Deaf community have across the world.
  • The technological advancements and innovations that have come about because of Deaf people.


Drisana lives in Canada and Matthew lives in Sweden and they’ve found that through a mix of Auslan and other sign languages from across the world, they can still communicate easily with the Deaf community in their adopted countries. While there are multiple distinct sign languages across the world, the fact that these languages are visual means it’s much easier for Deaf strangers to communicate, than it is for hearing strangers.

“My husband … is a South African and we don’t share a common signed language,” Drisana says. “So whilst I can converse in South African sign language I am by no means fluent.”

We use a mix of South African sign language, Auslan and International Sign thrown in.

They both met their partners overseas through the Deaf community, which Matthew also says is Deaf Gain.

“[That’s] a little bit of Deaf Gain as well, because we're all connected throughout the world, it’s a bit like a spider's web.”

Another situation where using a visual language is super useful is underwater, something that’s almost impossible for spoken language.

“I feel sorry for hearing people in this regard, really because they can't speak under water,” Matthew says.

Drisana tells a story that demonstrates how useful this can be.

“I remember when I was younger going along to a friend's place where they had a pool. I didn't swim that day, but I was still able to be a part of the conversation because they had a pool glass wall.

“So I could still chat with everyone who was swimming using sign language, even when they were under water and really feel like I was in there. You couldn't do that if you couldn't sign. How would you speak underwater?”

Our Deaf Ways is a series by SBS and Deaf Australia about everyday life as a Deaf person. Over this six-part visual podcast series, Deaf people from all walks of life will share stories and perspectives on Deaf Ways.

Produced in partnership with Deaf Australia and hosted by Deaf advocate Shirley Liu, the series features many well-known figures in the Deaf community.

Watch episode three of Our Deaf Ways now. New episodes will be released fortnightly. Follow the series on the SBS Australia YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts and Pocket Casts. 


Our Deaf Ways is hosted by Shirley Liu. Produced and directed by Paula Thornton. Edited by June Stathis.

Deaf Australia and SBS acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and pay our respects to their Elders past and present. We extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are watching with us.

Deaf Australia and SBS celebrate Auslan and recognise all Deaf leaders in Australia who have advocated for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing communities. Deaf Australia is proud of everyone’s contribution, whether big or small, in preserving our language, community and culture.