'My Deaf Story Project -
Discovering our deaf culture, identity and heritage'
Report from Project Manager Steve Gibson 'My Deaf Story Heritage'
I took over the project manager role from Sam Allen on 4th January 2016. On the same day, I met up with Jill Jones and Sam. At the meeting, Sam transferred all the paperwork and workload to me. After Sam left, Jill and I went through what had been done and what was needed to do.
I am grateful to both Jill and Sam for their information and support, mainly the former. I have to say that it has been a steep learning curve for me and it will take a while before I settle in and effectively manage the project.
To date, we have had the following workshops/visits:
16th January – Visit to Thackeray Museum, Leeds and a meeting with West Yorkshire Metro over the use of Travel pass for deaf people.
30th January – Visit to British Deaf History Museum at Warrington.
6th February – 1st Workshop on ScriptWriting led by Charlie Swinbourne.
In every workshop / visit, there has been an average attendance of 15 deaf young people. This has been a positive aspect.
We have arranged the following workshops/visits:
7th May – Visit to Deaffest at Wolverhampton.
We are in the process in recruiting an Acting Tutor / Director / Producer to lead three Acting workshops in June, July and September, to oversee the rehearsals and stage the drama play in November. The play will be at Mechanics Theatre in Wakefield.
We have set up possibly an effective communication system where we all can be in the loop continuously. A WhatApps messaging group where we could send instant texts, insert posters and play videos. We have consistently used a bilingual approach in sending texts in English and videos in BSL. This has worked pretty well in such a way that the number of deaf young people willing to attend the Safeguarding workshop increased two nights before Saturday 20th February.
We have just recently set up a closed and secret Facebook group where DDYC members are invited. Here, it is hoped that a learning and discussion environment can be set up for the deaf young people.
I would like to put on record my thanks to Jill Jones for her big support and help with my induction and settling in.
The My Deaf Story Heritage project has been really interesting.
The Project Manager was recruited in July 2015 and her contract signed in August, so the project began earlier than expected. Unfortunately, Sam Allen, the Project Manager, had to leave so Steve Gibson was recruited from January, and got to work straight away organising events.
From September John Hay, from the British Deaf History Society, gave presentations on the important parts of Deaf history: the Birth of the Deaf community in France resulting from the first Deaf school in Paris, followed by the Milan Conference in 1888. This is where sign languages were banned in education.
John Hay and Jill Jones, Chair of DEX, explained what happened in deaf education after the Milan Conference and how sign languages were, much later, slowly introduced in some schools and in mainstream education. But this is only for a small group of deaf children.
Wayne Richards, a local Deaf historian researching Deaf history in Yorkshire, presented his work. Then the DDYC visited two museums: Thackray Museum in Leeds and handled old hearing aids and valuable items in the museum; the British Deaf History Museum in Warrington where they saw a big collection of Deaf artists' paintings, schools' uniform and things taken from closed schools, books and papers, items from Deaf clubs among many other things.
The DDYC members held a lively debate on the good and bad things about special schools and mainstream education, which was filmed.
The members visited the Houses of Parliament and 10 Downing Street and talked to Keir Cozens, Team Manager for Rachel Reeves, MP. Later some met Rachel Reeves to tell her about their concerns for deaf children and young people and ask what she can do to support.
As well as this, Emily Castle of Young Lives, which is a partner in the project, trained the DDYC and DEX Board members twice: Risk and Resilience, and Safeguarding.
Charlie Swinbourne, Deaf blogger, journalist and scriptwriter, trained at two workshops on scriptwriting for the play and show which is being planned for November.
John Smith, Deaf comedian, showed the group examples of Deaf humour, and explained Deaf culture.
To make sure the project is going well, reps from the DDYC, Emily Castle, and some DEX Board Directors have held two Project Meetings to monitor the targets and budget.
Also, some DDYC members attend DEX Board meetings to learn how to manage DEX.
There will be workshops on filming and film production in 2017.
So, it has been a busy seven months, with more exciting things to come!