Thanks to the invention and acceptance of sign language, deafness is not a debilitating affliction.
As physical limitations go, those who cannot hear have quite a few methods to conquer communication: reading lips, writing notes, using sign language and in quite a few cases, actually speaking. Being deaf or hard of hearing alone can’t stop a determined person from achieving any goal a hearing person would have. In Children Of A Lesser God, a hearing, but sign-fluent, William Hurt takes up residence at a school for the deaf as a communications teacher; throughout the film, scenes show him attempting to teach his students to communicate, not only with each other, but also with hearing people, too. His goals are surface-valiant and his methods delightfully unconventional. But when he meets Marlee Matlin, a beautiful, deaf custodian at the school, who signs whip-smart sass and hides a dormant intelligence, the audience gets a taste of emotional physics. It makes for compelling drama.
Nested within the drama lies the main conflict in Children Of A Lesser God. It’s Netwon’s First Law wrapped into a different mode:
Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it