Helen Keller Services Celebrates Its Academy Award Nomination for “Feeling Through”

Short Film Starring Deaf-Blind HKS Employee in Starring Role gets 2021 Oscar Nod

Live Action Short Film Nominations

Brooklyn & Long Island, NY (March 15, 2021) – Helen Keller Services (HKS), a national non-profit working with individuals who are blind, have vision loss, are DeafBlind and/or have combined hearing-vision loss to live, work and thrive, is celebrating the Academy Award Nomination for “Feeling Through,” a short film starring HKS employee Robert Tarango, the first DeafBlind actor to star in a film, who authentically plays a DeafBlind character in the film.

“Feeling Through” is directed and produced by Doug Roland. Executive Producers are Marlee Matlin, Jack Jason and Andrew Carlberg. Sue Ruzenski, CEO of Helen Keller Services, served as a producer on the film and will also receive an Academy Award if the film wins at the April 25 ceremony.

The film stars Steven Prescod and Robert Tarrango. Prescod plays a young black man in New York City who has a random and life-changing encounter with a DeafBlind man, played by Tarrango, waiting for a bus. The story was inspired by a real-life experience Director Doug Roland had in New York City.

This is beyond our wildest dreams,’ said Sue Ruzenski, CEO of Helen Keller Services. “We were initially unsure about how the DeafBlind community would be portrayed in a film. Working with Doug and his team was a true collaboration. Throughout the last three years, Doug and HKS worked together to bring fully accessible screenings to the DeafBlind community throughout the county. Now to be nominated for an Oscar, it exceeds every expectation and has all the elements to be transformative.” 

“I am overjoyed with the success of this film and to have had the opportunity to be working with Doug Roland,” said Robert Tarrango, who plays “Artie” in the film. “I have always wanted to be an actor. Now my first film is nominated for the biggest award in all of film. It’s never too late to achieve your dreams.”

Originally from Long Island, Tarrango was a Kitchen employee of Helen Keller National Center on Long Island when he was tapped for the film. Just like the character he plays, Robert communicates through America Sign Language, He now lives in Arizona, where he grew up.

WATCH: Whoopi Goldberg interviews the cast and crew of “Feeling Through” 

About Helen Keller Services:

Helen Keller Services’ mission is to enable individuals who are blind, have vision loss, are DeafBlind and/or have combined hearing-vision loss to live, work and thrive in their community of choice. HKS offers services and programs through two divisions: Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults and Helen Keller Services for the Blind. For more information, please visit www.helenkeller.org.

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