How audio design in Apple TV+ kids show “El Deafo” conveys what it’s like to be deaf

The creators of the Apple TV+ kids show “El Deafo” explain in a new video how they have leveraged audio design to convey what it’s like to be deaf or hard of hearing.

The role of audio design in the Apple TV+ kids show “El Deafo”

“El Deafo” was adapted from a New York Times best-selling graphic memoir by Cece Bell.

The author, who also executive produced and narrated the series, explains in a new video on the official Apple TV+ YouTube channel how the series creators leveraged smart audio design to clearly demonstrate to the viewer what it’s like to be deaf or hard hearing, as well as convey what it’s like to be with a person that doesn’t hear very well.

Calling audio design “really tough,” Bell said that viewers can actually hear and feel what it’s like to be chatting with a hearing-challenged person.

Here’s what she said:

I want to be able to explain to hearing people what this is like. If my character on the show can see the person’s mouth move, the audio is pretty much clear.


But then there are situations that happen where that comprehension just goes away. Maybe the lights get turned off, or a character faces away. And I think by recreating that experience, it’s sort of a reminder of how to be with a person that doesn’t hear very well.

Apple on December 15, 2021, officially announced that “El Deafo” was coming to its original video service, providing the following blurb describing the new show:

“El Deafo” follows perceptive young Cece (voiced by Finigan) as she loses her hearing and finds her inner superhero. Going to school and making new friends can be tough. Having to do both while wearing a bulky hearing aid on your chest? That takes superpowers! With a little help from her superhero alter ego El Deafo, Cece learns to embrace what makes her extraordinary.

“El Deafo” is executive produced and written by Will McRobb (“The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” “Harriet the Spy”), co-executive produced by Claire Finn for Lighthouse Studios and directed by Gilly Fogg (“Bob the Builder”).

Marketing image showing poster artwork for the Apple TV+ kids show "El Deafo"
Image credit: Apple

Mike Andrews composed original music by Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee. Waxahatchee’s energetic “El Deafo” soundtrack is available on Apple Music while the single “Tomorrow” is currently available as a stream download.

“El Deafo” is now streaming on Apple TV+.

Appel TV+ pricing and availability

Apple TV+ is available in over a hundred countries and regions. In the United States, Apple TV+ is available for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial.

The service can be used on the web at and via the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, popular smart TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, VIZIO, TCL and others, Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices, Chromecast with Google TV, as well as PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles. You’ll get three months of Apple TV+ for free when you buy and activate a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch.