Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

Mr John Walker

Post:Lecturer (Sussex Centre for Language Studies)
Other posts:Language Tutor (Sussex Centre for Language Studies)
 Research student (Geography)
Location:ARTS B B118
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My own journey has been a constant search for a 'home'. Grand narratives on 'homes' are defined by its location, the familial attachments, the community networks, and means to live in social and fiscal independence. As a deaf child of hearing parents, a 'home' was a challenge where the binary of 'connectedness/disconnectedness' was a constant presence in each waking hour. My first meeting of a deaf child born to deaf parents gave me cause to realise that my experiences were unique to 'deaf/hearing' families; the constant discord of belongingness, shared narrative, and rootedness is regularly questioned. 

Since then, my journey has been a continuous journey of discovery into Deafhood (Ladd 2003) and through each linguistic, social, cultural and political realisation, I metamorphosed into an identity I chose, rather than the one I was prescribed. My research interest lies in how that journey, and the journies of many others, who found their rootedness in locations outside of their familial origin. Hence, an interest in human geography.

The questions I seek to understand include:

1. How does a community, not defined by geographical boundaries, form and sustain its salient identity?

2. How does the cultural objects in the Deaf lifeworld cause individuals to navigate around the Deaf community in mainstream spaces, including spaces that attract and repel?

3. What are the actions that 'glues' the Deaf community together and create meaning, which goes beyond the cultural enclaves and oppressive ghettos?

4. How do these ideas transfer to other cultural identities, including diasporas, refugees, and perceptively 'lost people'?

5. What is the relationship between the body, embodiment of a minority culture and the embodied city?


Lecturer in British Sign Language for the Sussex Centre for Language Studies. The centre offers a range of languages taught to undergraduate, post graduate and open course students. John has designed and delivered a language elective pathway and minor in British Sign Language and Deaf Culture. As the convenor for BSL, he explores the use of technology, including film capture, editing and on-line assessment and submission in partnership with TEL and the Language Learning Centre. John works with three other colleagues who teach BSL in different capacities and supports them with resources, teaching methodology and career progression.

His past roles include Senior Research Fellow (Community and University Partnership Programme/University of Brighton, 2012-14) and Convenor of Deaf Studies (Centre for Community Engagement/University of Sussex, 2006-12).

John is currently a Doctoral Researcher in human geography at the School of Global Studies and will complete his thesis in 2020.

Deputy Chair of Signature from 2015.

Past External Examiner for Universities of Durham (2009 - 2012), Wolverhampton (2015 - 2019), York St. John (2016 - 2019).

In 2017, John was awarded the Student-led Teaching Award for Outstanding and Innovative Undergraduate Teaching.

In 2019, John received 'the Education Award' for Sussex Spirit.

Community and Business

Business and community engagement includes:

Director for Chereme Ltd. for 9 years that provided a range of training interventions and solutions, especially in organisations working with or led by deaf people (2000 - 2009)

Treasurer for the Association of Sign Language Interpreters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (2008 - 2011)

Sat on the editorial board for the Sign Language Translator and Interpreter journal (2006 - 2010)

Chair for the Brighton & Hove Deaf Equality and Access Forum (2000 - 2006).

Advisor on the Department of Children, Schools and Families committee for the I-Sign project (£800k) (2008-11). Later, Co-Chair of the BSL Coalition on behalf of National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NatSIP) and Signature (2012-2015)

Director of DeafCOG (2010-2016)

Board of Signature (2015-present), a national awarding body for courses in signed languages and effective communication with deaf and deafblind people, and I was appointed Deputy Chair from 2017.

External Examiner and external assessor of several programmes in sign language and interpreting.


HNC Chemistry (Hertfordshire)

PG Dip Interpreting in the Deaf community (Durham)

MA Personal Development for Professional Purposes (University College Chester - not complete)

PhD Geography (Sussex - pending)

Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (20+ years membership)

Associate member of Association of Sign Language Interpreters