A Deaf Child in the Family

  • Deaf Education
  • TV/Media
“A Deaf Child in the Family” is an award-winning film which shows authentic scenes from Deaf education centres at Kelston, St Dominics and Sumner, produced as a resource for families of deaf children.

“A Deaf Child in the Family” (with captions organised by SignDNA) shows authentic scenes from Kelston, St Dominics and Sumner, with the 40-minute film winning a gold award in the British Medical Association’s 1969 film competition. A National Film Unit production in 1969 called “A Deaf Child in the Family” was produced for a Christchurch-based group called the ‘New Zealand Teaching Films to Help Deaf Children Society Inc’ and was made to be used as a teaching aid for parents of deaf children. A newspaper review of the film (Manawatu Evening Standard, 26 June 1969) says: ‘The film shows some of the methods being used at Sumner and Feilding’ deaf education providers. The St Dominic’s section includes three minutes of playground and a classroom lesson.

‘The Teaching Films to Help Deaf Children’ group was formed in May 1967 by two mothers of deaf children and representatives of the medical and teaching professions. The aim of the group was to make a film designed to show parents of pre-school deaf children how they could best “help” their deaf child. The cost of making the film and a booklet for any individuals or organisations in “the education and general progress of deaf children” was estimated to cost up to $5,000. An appeal for funds was made by the group and reached its goal within a few months. The production of the film was made by the National Film Unit, and production commenced in February 1968. It first screened at Sumner on 20 February 1969, and was subsequently shown at Deaf Clubs throughout New Zealand.

St Dominics - when the school was at Dover Street, the children were filmed by the National Film Unit. Footage shows Sister Conrad working to get their group of deaf pupils to produce the consonant “c”. The class is reciting the little poem ‘Come, come, cushy cow’.

The film, ‘A Deaf Child in the Family’ later won a gold award in the British Medical Association’s 1969 film competition. The 40-minute film won the award in competition with 77 other films entered in the class for 16 millimeter commercially sponsored and professionally produced films.


  • New Zealand Deaf News, Winter Issue, 1968.
  • ‘We See What You Mean: A History of St Dominic’s School for Deaf Children and the Catholic Ministry in New Zealand’, Dorothy Pilkington, 2008.
Produced by:
National Film Unit
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