Deaf Gain is a series of events run in partnership with Lancashire County Council Arts development team and Deafway. It is a touring exhibition, which has been held in a number of Libraries across Lancashire. When the exhibition arrives in a new venue, an Inspirational guest Deaf speaker is invited to launch the event by sharing their stories, experiences and demonstrating their unique skills to both Deaf and hearing audiences. A storytelling event is also held to welcome Deaf children into the library and it is an opportunity for them to see a mainstream setting appreciating their heritage. Both events are made accessible to hearing people with the provision of BSL interpreters.
The exhibition is a celebration of the arts, culture and heritage of Deaf people living in the North West. However, it is not the shared geography that unites this collection but the theme of Deaf identity that runs through it.
For most hearing people, the birth of a deaf baby conjures up anxious thoughts of isolation, limited communication and other difficulties, however that is just one perspective. Our perspective, which is known as ‘Deaf Gain’, sees a deaf person not as a problem but as an asset. Society benefits by being exposed to a new language and culture and to new people, ideas and experiences.
Not a hearing loss but a Deaf Gain.
The exhibition forms part of The Cultural Lives of Lancashire – a programme of exhibitions and associated activities supported by Lancashire County Council which celebrates the rich cultural diversity of the County. Lancashire County Council is proud to be working in partnership with Deafway on this project.
The first event was held in Accrington library on the 29th of January where Ashley Kendall from CBeebies, presented his experiences of working with Flashing Lights Media and talked about the honour he felt at being nominated for a BAFTA disability Award. He also taught a poem in BSL to a group of young children who then performed it both to their parents and rest of the audience.
The second leg of the tour arrived at Fleetwood library on the 26th of March where we were fortunate to welcome inspirational Deaf sportswoman – Donna Cross. She shared her sporting achievements in football, golf, squash and many more. She represented Great Britain in the Women Football team at the Deaflympics – 2013 in Bulgaria, where they successfully brought home a bronze medal, not satisfied with this, she then went on to represent England at the World Deaf Golf Championship – 2014 in USA. In the second half of her talk Donna explained how she ran two successful dog grooming businesses based not only in the UK but also in Northern Ireland. Her presentation left audience members feeling “inspired” with one stating, “It has been ‘evident’ that nothing should get in the way of your dreams”
The third leg of the tour took place at Colne Library on the 4th of June with Scott Garthwaite, the famous Punk Chef who comes from the North East. He explained some of the difficulties of creating a cookery program aimed at a Deaf audience, a lively question and Answer session followed. Scott ended his presentation with a demonstration of his cooking skills, creating a delicious Asparagus and crispy duck egg salad with a tasty mustard dressing which the audience were happy to sample!
The fourth leg of the tour took place at Lancaster Library on 3rd September with legendary Dr Gerry Hughes who held the audience captive throughout his visual presentation! Many members of the audience says that they feel inspired from the presentation…
“Great insight into Deaf community and an inspiring story…”
The final Deaf Gain event was at the Harris Library in Preston on Wednesday 11th November with Oliver Westbury who reached North Pole. Oliver shared his story of how he ran hundreds of miles and trekked across the Arctic to raise money for Deaf children.
Some comments from the audience:
“I want to explore!”
“I knew nothing about the North pole! It was great to hear Oliver’s story.”
“People can do anything if you put your mind to it, despite any disability.”
Do you feel you have gained anything from this event? -
“A knowledge that I’m not going to the poles any time soon! I’ll stick to warmer challenges!”