Children of a Lesser God is a 1986 American romantic drama film directed by Randa Haines and written by Hesper Anderson and Mark Medoff. An adaptation of Medoff's Tony Award-winning stage play of the same name, the film stars William Hurt and Marlee Matlin as two employees at a school for the deaf: a hearing speech teacher and a deaf custodian, respectively, whose conflicting ideologies on speech and deafness create tension and discord in their developing romantic relationship. Marking the film debut for deaf actress Matlin, Children of a Lesser God is notable for being the first since the 1926 silent film You'd Be Surprised to feature a deaf actor in a major role.
After meeting deaf actress Phyllis Frelich in 1977 at the University of Rhode Island's New Repertory Project, playwright Medoff wrote the play Children of a Lesser God to be her star vehicle. Based partially on Frelich's relationship with her hearing husband Robert Steinberg, the play chronicles the turmoiled relationship and marriage between a reluctant-to-speak deaf woman and an unconventional speech pathologist for the deaf. With Frelich starring, Children of a Lesser God opened on Broadway in 1980, received three