Deaf Awareness Week and Beyond
Writer: Isabel Willmott
‘Deaf Awareness Week’ and how we’re working to remove barriers to access across our programmes…
Popular Culture D/deaf Awareness
In recent months, D/deaf people have featured prominently in the news.
Actress Rose Ayling-Ellis won the 2021 series of Strictly Come Dancing, despite not being able to fully hear the music. Instead, she kept time partly by feeling the vibrations through the floor. Even if you’re not a Strictly fan, watch this incredible moment mid-dance where the music cuts out and Rose and professional partner Giovanni Pernice dance in silence as a tribute to the D/deaf community.
In surely the most talked about Oscars ceremony in recent years following the Smith – Rock debacle, one moment that should be talked about far more is the Best Picture win for CODA. A common acronym for ‘Child Of D/deaf Adults’, the film, which boasts a predominantly D/deaf cast, focuses on the story of a Deaf fishing family whose business is threatened. Ruby, the only hearing member of the family, is torn between pursuing her passion for a career in music and her fear of abandoning her parents. For another incredibly moving and historic moment, watch Troy Kotsur’s Oscar acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor, entirely in American Sign Language.
While Kotsur’s Best Supporting Actor win was universally celebrated within the D/deaf community, CODA itself has been met with more mixed reactions according to writer, translator and D/deaf rights activist Sara Nović: CODA’s Historic Oscars Win Is More Complicated for the Deaf Community Than It May Seem
Despite raising concerns, Sara Nović expressed a clear hope and optimism about the future of D/deaf rights given this burgeoning popular cultural awareness. She said: ‘I hope that we are at the very beginning of an explosion of deaf-centric stories, stories that showcase the intersectionality of the deaf experience, as well as films featuring deaf actors and characters that have nothing to do with deafness at all. I’m hopeful that seeing Troy Kotsur being awarded the highest honour in his field – and accepting that award in ASL with the entire audience hand-waving in applause – will do more to emphasise D/deaf people’s talent and worth than whatever viewers might assume about an entire community from the fictional character he played. I am so thrilled for and proud of the deaf people who made CODA as successful as it was.’
British Sign Language in the News
Did you know that up to 250,000 people use some British Sign Language every day? Yet it is only just this month in the final stages of becoming an officially recognised language in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland recognised BSL as an official language in 2015), arguably fuelled by the rise in mainstream awareness of the D/deaf experience.
The British Sign Language Bill received its third reading in the House of Lords on 27th April and, following Royal Assent, will pass into law. Practically, this means that public bodies will have to promote the language and ensure that interpreters are available for certain services and events.
Labour’s Rosie Cooper, who introduced the Bill, said it would send ‘a clear message that they [the D/deaf community] deserve equal access’.
Deaf Awareness Week
Deaf Awareness Week 2022 is taking place between 2 – 8 May, and the theme is D/deaf Inclusion, about which they write: ‘We know that deafness comes with many challenges, but many D/deaf people and those around in their community feel like their struggles are unseen. They yearn for a wider participatory role and inclusion in many spheres of life.’
In response to this theme, we have produced a special prayer for Deaf Awareness Week which shares information and practical tips for how to be more inclusive of D/deaf and hard of hearing people, linking to Jesus’ command to ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (John 13: 34). Also included is a film of a BSL prayer which we are grateful to Christian BSL for allowing us permission to use.
Access the resource here (subscribers to Collective Worship only).
Further Developments Across Ten Ten Resources
We have a huge wealth of resources across our Collective Worship and Life to the Full programmes at both primary and secondary level, much of which involves video content. We are in the process of creating subtitles for every video to remove barriers to access and promote D/deaf Inclusion.
Watch out for the ongoing developments in this area, which will be complete for the Autumn Term 2022!
We always strive to make our resources as accessible and inclusive as possible and are also undergoing a review of our SEND guidance across all programmes. Please do get in touch with any comments or feedback as we seek to improve our programmes in these areas.