DER Documentary

Yucatec Maya Deaf Sign

Yucatec Maya Deaf Sign I launch preview watch a preview

by Hubert Smith
color, 31 min, 1977 / 2015
in Yucatec Maya Sign Language with English subtitles


In this video, three deaf young men (Santos, Severiano, and Jose) discuss their encounters with snakes. They communicate using Yucatec Maya Sign, a unique and complete language confirmed by studies done by senior faculty at Gallaudet College, the nation's first university for the deaf.

The original project began in 1976 with the goal to document modern Yucatec Maya society in a single community. This was accomplished in the 4-hour PBS series, The Living Maya. Now the producer is releasing videos which display the sign language. Margaret Mead, who served as an advisor to the project before her death once remarked, “The language is one thing, but what is remarkable is that the entire community uses it!”

Related Resources
Study Guide coming soon

Related Films
The Living Maya
A Life Without Words

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