SHARE: The Deaf Visual Archive

Project Description

SHARE: The Deaf Visual Archive

Reading, UK

Partner: British Deaf Association
FundersHeritage Lottery Fund


Explore the collection



The British Deaf Association had hundreds archival films and photographs that captured the rich social history of the British Deaf Community and the development of British Sign Language. The collection dated back to the 1930s and included material filmed at deaf social clubs, summer camps and events. The purpose of Share: The Deaf Visual Archive was to:

  • Make this archive accessible for the Deaf and hearing community to explore
  • Showcase the distinct cultural heritage of the Deaf community with a wider audience
  • Enable people to add their own videos and photos
  • Enable people to add comments and stories to the archive material


What happened?

The British Deaf Association (BDA) digitised their historical film collection and toured around Deaf clubs in the UK screening some of them. As the Deaf Community is very small, many of the people in the audience recognised friends, family members or even themselves. It was a very emotional experience and the BDA filmed people and added these additional memories and stories alongside the archival films.

All the historical films, photographs and contemporary interviews were uploaded and mapped in a dedicated Collection on Alongside the online archive, the BDA made a feature-length documentary, “Power in our Hands” that combined the archive footage with new interviews to chart the Deaf community’s campaign for equality, access and full recognition of British Sign Language. Community officers continue to tour deaf clubs and community groups, screening the film, showing the archive and collecting more memories and materials.

Read more here.


What was created?
  • A collection on Historypin with 350 archival films, 1200 historical photos and contemporary interviews
  • Community engagement events with the Deaf community to collect and showcase videos, photos and memories
  • A feature length documentary, Power in our Hands
  • An educational resource pack for the Deaf and hearing curriculum  to enable schools to use the documentary and online archive


Design and Digital

  • Created the visual identify for the project
  • Created a custom collection with a unique design, theme and partnership branding
  • Ran multiple user research and testing cycles with the British Deaf Community and iterated the user interface and functionality to ensure it was usable
  • Integrated additional features, including a video landing page and thematic browsing by tag

Collections and Content

  • Bulk uploaded 350 video clips
  • Bulk uploaded 1200 historical photographs

If you’d like to run a similar project with Historypin, get in touch.