Life & Deaf UK Tour 2013

This is one for those of you interested in deafness, Deaf culture, or Sign Language. My boss at my (now not so) new job, Jane Thomas, is one of the founders of a charity called the Life & Deaf Association.

For the past couple of weeks she has been travelling around the UK as part of their recent ‘Sign Good Morning’ campaign, to get people around the country to be able to say ‘Good morning’ in British Sign Language (BSL).

The campaign is supported by celebrities including Daniel Radcliffe and Sir Ian McKellen, and has been featured on video screens in London Underground Stations as well as in the free daily Metro newspaper which is read by millions of commuters every day.

Life & Deaf was originally set up by the speech and language team in Greenwich, London (UK), as a project to promote self-expression in young deaf people by the medium of poetry.

In general, young people who grow up with a hearing loss tend to have difficulty expressing themselves, and can lag severely behind their peers in social and academic development.

Life & Deaf wanted to encourage these young people to develop their emotional vocabulary, and to express the emotions they felt in relation to their deafness.

The project has been a huge success. Young deaf people from Greenwich and across the UK have been writing poetry that expresses what it feels like to be deaf, with an identity of deafness and a stake in a minority culture.

They have produced an incredible short film, ‘That’s Not All of Me’, which brings together much of this poetry. It is well worth a watch, and is surprisingly moving. I am currently working with many of the kids featured in the film, and can attest to the incredible effect their participation in the project has had on their lives.

The Life & Deaf UK Tour has been great for me as well, as it has provided me with an opportunity to express my creativity in a way that (for once) doesn’t involve writing.

A couple of months before the tour Jane approached me to ask if I would like to have a go at designing the vehicle wrap that would be printed on Heidi, the VW camper van they are taking around the country as a mobile exhibition and pop-up cinema.

I came back with a couple of ideas, they liked them, and before I knew it I was emailing off the final designs to the printers. A week or so later, at the tour launch party, I was seeing my work ‘in the flesh’.

The van is making its way around the country as we speak. It will be getting back to London at the end of the week.

You can follow the tour’s progress on the association’s website, lifeanddeaf.co.uk, or on Twitter @LifeAndDeaf.

Also on the website are photos and video clips of people signing ‘Good morning’, and a section where you can upload your own photos.

So I invite you to visit the website and read a few of the updates on Twitter. If you live and work in London you may have seen the Metro article last week Monday — well, this is what it’s all about!

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