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Veteran television/radio broadcaster Sheldon I. Altfeld has been honored with the Pioneer Award by Deaf Television Foundation for his historic launch of Silent Network in 1979, which is America’s very first national television network providing programming to viewers who are Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing. A national television special about the award ceremony is now released on Silent Network which can be seen in “Deaf Perspective” episode 69. A look at the network’s history is also presented along with several commentaries by Silent Network alumni and colleagues.

A twelve-time Emmy Award-nominee and four-time Emmy Award winner, Sheldon I. Altfeld has been an actor, writer, producer, and director in Hollywood since 1950.  His extensive credits have spanned every aspect of the entertainment industry, including radio, television, motion pictures, stage productions, and audio recordings. Listed in “Who’s Who In Entertainment,” Mr. Altfeld has produced, written, and/or directed thousands of TV shows for NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, Metromedia, Fox, Disney, and various cable networks. In addition, he has produced thousands of hours of radio programming and hundreds of stage productions.

Dr. Steve Baldwin, president of Deaf Television Foundation says, “Our foundation is proud to collaborate with Silent Network in the development of this special tribute to Sheldon I. Altfeld, a true pioneer for national Deaf TV programs.”

David H. Pierce, co-owner of Silent Network says, “Sheldon had a really tremendous impact on the television industry by making programming available with sign language, open captions, and full sound on a national scale through broadcast, cable, satellite, and the Internet. It was a gutsy thing to do in the old days which paid off well in the long run as it’s now normal to see sign language on TV today.”



Silent Network, the nation’s first national sign language television network, restarted cable television distribution in May 2020 through its new station affiliate, DATV of Dayton, Ohio, which airs on the Spectrum cable system.

Silent Network was founded in 1979 and has had a long history in broadcast, cable, and satellite distribution in its 40 year history and has garnered several awards, including Emmy’s. In recent years, the network has been primarily focused on OTT (Over The Top) television with its mobile network and Roku TV channel. Silent Network president David H. Pierce adds that “the network was a pioneer in cable television during the eighties and nineties so it is very fitting for us to return to that distribution medium for the benefit of our viewers.”

Silent Network and its recently launched companion service, Access Network, provide broadcast television programming in sign language and/or English subtitles and full sound for full accessibility for everyone to enjoy. Some shows are also very visual with no dialogue, making them “language free.”

Since its inception in 1978, DATV is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that has given Dayton, Ohio the “Freedom to Communicate.” Its mission is to serve as a community forum that empowers all citizens to learn, create and express their ideas through electronic media. Steve Ross, DATV’s Operations Manager, says, “I remember Silent Network from back in the 1980’s and how great the programming is. With their mission in alignment with ours, it’s a pleasure to be working with them again to provide this important programming for our community.”

Rosemary Bradley, DATV’s Executive Director adds that “DATV was the original form of social media in the past 40 years. In the past year alone, DATV’s 400-plus members produced over 4,900 local programs for and about Dayton. We are pleased to have Silent Network as part of our station to reach an untapped part of the community.”



The Silent Network, the nation’s first national television network, geared to deaf and hard of hearing viewers, has re-launched as an Over-The-Top (OTT) television service. All the programming is presented in sign language, open captions (subtitles), and full sound making it accessible to everyone. The popular network, which lasted for several years, has a unique acronym SIgn Language ENTertainment.

The Silent Network was founded in 1979 as a national cable television network, which was viewed by more than 17 million households nationwide in the USA and Canada. The network received numerous accolades over the years, including seven Emmy Awards. The network aired a variety of shows that appeal to deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing viewers of all ages.

The revived network can be seen on Access Network via Roku players and Roku televisions for free. For mobile convenience on phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers, its mobile network is available at which has a small monthly subscription fee to cover service charges.

David H. Pierce of Silent Network stated that “our extensive library of classic television shows can now entertain a new generation of viewers, young and old, with shows about health, travel, pets, and important issues of interest to the deaf and hard of hearing community. In addition to the classic shows, we are excited about the forthcoming new shows that are now in production. Over 37.5 million people in the U.S.A., age 18 and above, have some form of hearing loss according to recent studies and the network helps fill the void in the world of television.”

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You can buy Roku players and TV’s through the Silent Network Products page!