Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

Deaf Life Histories

Deaf Life Histories research initiatives led by John Walker, University of Sussex, 2009-2010

1. Our Space project (SECC/CUPP/HEFCE)

How can the act of reminiscence enable the progress of Deaf people's health and wellbeing? The project works with a community of practice (Wenger) to facilitate action learning to create solutions and resources for the Deaf community. This project is supported by Josh Cameron (Occupational therapy/history) and Simon Hesselberg (third sector organisation [RAD]/geneology). The developed spaces include: a festival, reminiscence website, community magazine, workshops, and monthly meetings.

2. www.sussexdeafhistory.org.uk

Life history website set up with Jack Latimer at Community Sites. The editorial board includes Geoffrey Eagling (historian and author of Brighton Deaf School), John Lilley (archists/document restorer/ author of West Ham Deaf Club and working on Deaf Badminton); Gavin Lilley (Director of Sign Forward/activist), Diana Neal (Editor of Deaf Sussex Today magazine), Simon Hesselberg (RAD and interests in geneology) and John Walker (Convenor of Deaf Studies).

3. Signall project

Signall is a project led by Intersource Group (Ireland) Ltd in partnership with Trinity College Dublin (Centre for Deaf Studies) to develop a blended learning course, titled 'international perspectives on deafness'. The project includes partners from Finland, Czech Republic, Poland and the UK (University of Sussex). At the end of Signall II, 15 interviews recorded the lives of Deaf people from their perspective, cherishing their journey and achievements. We will be revisiting this process with further interviews in 2010/2012 with a focus on 'Deaf education' and 'working with Deaf people'.

27 November 2013: Breakthrough for Deaf life story archive

The British Deaf Association (BDA) has been awarded £719,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to digitise their film archive and develop an oral history archive. John Walker of the CLHLWR advised on the bid. John is an expert on oral and video history in Deaf education.

The three-year project aims to digitise the BDA collection and put it at the heart of a wide-ranging education and outreach programme that will address the significant lack of resources focussed on the cultural history of the Deaf community in the UK.