The notetaker’s limping chicken from ‘Deaf Teens: Hearing World’ goes viral

Wow, what’s happened to the online deaf world in the last 24 hours? There’s only one word on everyone’s lips and hands: ‘chicken.’ Actually there’s two: ‘ill chicken.’

Who knew that one excuse from a notetaker in BBC3’s ‘Deaf Teens: Hearing World’ would spawn quite so many retweets, status updates, and ultimately a Facebook group called My chicken is ill with over 600 members (and counting)?

For anyone who missed it, the film followed five teenagers with different levels of hearing and methods of communication on their journeys to adulthood and the hearing world.

When Sara, a teenager from Nottingham who is profoundly deaf (and needs the support of an interpreter and a notetaker at university) arrived for her first lecture, she was told by her notetaker (who had only been booked for one hour) that she couldn’t stay for the whole duration. The reason? “I have a problem,” the notetaker told her. “My chicken is ill.”

If the look of disbelief on Sara’s face that a limping chicken’s visit to the vet came above her education was telling, that was nothing compared to the online reaction from the deaf community.

A screengrab of the moment was spread by all and sundry on Twitter. On Facebook, people jovially speculated that the ill chicken had contributed to Sara’s later decision to quit university, and that the reason Sara and her boyfriend Asher were later seen eating at Nandos was some kind of revenge mission against chickens. Meanwhile Adam Bassett, a deaf actor, wondered whether the “the ill chicken, notetaker and Sara [will] appear on the Jeremy Kyle show this week?”

On Twitter, deaf people have been sharing gags (and other comments on the programme) using the #deafteens hashtag. They range from ‘Some people have clearly never known the love of a good chicken’ to people arguing ‘that the #deafteens chicken wasn’t even ill. It was limping, thus was *injured*.’

There are few moments that unite the deaf world, but it seems like everyone was watching BBC3 last night and this is one of those moments that struck a chord. Will we ever get over ‘chickengate’? Do we want to? And is it possible to think of any more original jokes about chickens?!

I’m off for a KFC Family Feast to ponder some of those questions.

Update: amazingly, two deaf chaps have recreated the ‘ill chicken’ scene… this is madness.


  1. what i would like to know was it true abt the chickens or was it just a deliberate excuse to show what happens when the notetaker doesnt turn up lol x

  2. Thank you add my clip It me with my mate make chicken clip. I can believe it. Lot Deaf shock about note taker leave early.

  3. I couldn’t believe it when she said that, I felt the same as Sara must have, that it was surely a joke…! It was honestly a mix-up, as she was booked when she was unavailable, but now that excuse will always be an inside joke amongst D/deaf people. The Facebook group has over 1,200 members now…

  4. What irrates me that this notetaker couldnt take her chicken to the vet in her own free time, not in professional working hours!

  5. We need to be careful before we slate the note taker. The subtitles were not complete and the notetaker had already explained to the organisers that she could not stay the full hour. She arguably should not have divulged the reason for this to the student, but said, “I have an appointment”.

    Blame should be centered on the institution for not providing cover or letting both the notetaker and student know beforehand. Perhaps the notetaker would have rearranged their appointment?

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