Unique film archive of the British Deaf Community launches

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We’re proud to be home to Share: The Deaf Visual Archive, a unique collection of thousands of photographs and films that reveal the experiences and stories of the British Deaf Community from the 1930s through to the present day.

The clips capture the social history of the British Deaf Community from seaside trips to the Isle of Man in the 1930s  to summer youth camps in the 1960s and events like the Deaflympics. Intertwined is a history of the activism activism that drove the foundation of the British Deaf Association to empower and equip members of the Deaf Community to campaign for their civil rights, including fighting for British Sign Language to be used and recognised language through awareness campaigns like Signing Marathons. The film archive is particularly interesting in this respect as it covers the period when it BSL as a language was being systematically recorded, used and taught for the first time.

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The collection is held by the British Deaf Association who have been screening the films at Deaf clubs across the country and gathering stories from members, many of whom are in the clips or recognise people in them. These interviews have been integrated into the archive offering a wonderful insight into the personal and collective experiences of the Deaf community, such as Brian and Jennifer, who attended the 1969 World Games for the Deaf in Yugoslavia.

Share:The Deaf Visual Archive offers a snapshot into the cultural history of the British Deaf Community. It is open for all to add to, so please contribute your comments, photos and film clips.

Read more about the project here, including free resources for schools and the screening programme of the documentary “Power in our Hands” which tells the history and heritage of the Deaf community in the UK.

The project was made possible by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and additional individual and organisational donors.