'Let's Dance' star Benjamin Piwko only found out at the age of 14 that he was deaf

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Writed by - Andy Gocker
  Benjamin Piwko only found out at the age of 14 that there were other deaf people
Actor Benjamin Piwko © dpa, Henning Kaiser, hka pat lev kde

Martial artist, dance talent, actor: Benjamin Piwko (42) is an all-rounder. On the occasion of the TV broadcast of his new film You Shall Hear, in which he plays a deaf family man , he now reveals in an “image” interview that his mother only really informed him about his deafness at the age of 14.

'I didn't know I was deaf'

In the 'crime scene' he was seen several times, at the latest since his participation in 'Let's Dance' 2019 actor Benjamin Piwko is also known to a larger audience. At that time he was able to take third place with professional dancer Isabel Edvardsson (40) - as the first deaf participant ever. He can currently be seen in the ZDF production 'You shall hear'. As the father of a two-year-old deaf daughter, he has to make a difficult decision in the role: should the child be given a supposedly “normal” life as a hearing person with a surgically inserted cochlear implant or not?

In the video: Benjamin Piwko explains sign language

  Benjamin Piwko explains sign language

In an interview with 'Bild', the actor now reports on his own difficult experiences as a child, which had less to do with his deafness and more to do with the school he went to as a child. When he was two years old, his mother moved to Switzerland with him. There was a private school there that specialized in teaching hearing-impaired children to speak: 'My teacher back then in Switzerland followed the pedagogy that sign language was not the future for deaf children,' explains Piwko. “The educators there told my mother: Never show Benjamin signs! Don't show him that there are other deaf people either!” As a result, he was not aware of his deafness: “So I didn't even know that I was deaf.” When he returned at the age of seven moved to Hamburg, that's why he went to a school for the hard of hearing instead of a school for the deaf.

'It wasn't until I was 14 that my mother first told me I was deaf'

  Benjamin Piwko: Why hearing people also benefit from sign language
A scene from the current film 'You shall hear': Benjamin Piwko plays a deaf father © ZDF / Silviu Guiman, SpotOn

Today the father of a young daughter is sure that this idea of ​​signless communication for the deaf was completely wrong. “Our language is sign language. This includes gestures, but also mouth movements, such as the corners of the mouth,' he explains to 'Bild'. He wasn't allowed to do any of that as a child: 'The fact that I was never allowed to gesture with my hands, my hands always had to stay down and I was only allowed to speak spoken language, suppressed me and was very stressful.' Finally, his mother couldn't take it anymore either. When Benjamin Piwko was 14, she finally told him that he was deaf and that there were other deaf people and sign language. A relief for the adolescent: 'When my mother revealed the truth to me, I really realized that there was an alternative to speaking,' he says in an interview.

In my own family, everyone knows sign language

  Benjamin Piwko and Felicitas Woll appear together on the red carpet for the first time.
Benjamin Piwko and Felicitas Woll have been a couple for several years © RTL

Things are very different in his own family. Sebastian Piwko has been in a relationship with actress Felicitas Woll (42) for several years , the two have a small four-year-old daughter. The communication between each other is mainly in sign language, he reveals: “We all use both languages. It's usually a mix.'

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