The inspiring life stories of deaf people from around the world, collected over ten years by a University of Manchester researcher, are to be explored in an innovative new podcast and public science event.
The podcast, which is presented in British Sign Language (BSL), is being used to promote a Soapbox Science event in Oxford on 18 June where Dr Goedele De Clerck will present stories gathered from a decade of work with deaf people in Europe, America and Africa, to which she is now adding by studying deaf lives in the UK.
Their empowering stories have been told in different signed languages, through narratives and creative methods such as drama, and Dr De Clerck will be using these examples to talk about the possibilities for both women and deaf people to forge careers in the sciences.
The podcast features a mix of BSL, pictures, video, subtitles and audio, and is designed to be accessible for all.
One of 12 academics taking part in the event in the centre of Oxford, Dr De Clerck is the first and only scholar to present her work in British Sign Language and through BSL interpreting services. She said: “It means a lot to me that this helps BSL become visible as a language of science. I think it is important for deaf children and young people to grow up knowing that research is currently being done in and on BSL, with deaf people, and by deaf scholars.”
It means a lot to me that this helps BSL become visible as a language of science. I think it is important for deaf children and young people to grow up knowing that research is currently being done in and on BSL, with deaf people, and by deaf scholars
Soapbox Science is a public outreach platform for promoting women scientists and their research. Modelled on Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park, it offers the chance for public debate, and this year will see 14 events taking place throughout the UK.
Dr De Clerck’s Soapbox Science presentation is part of her much wider project documenting the life stories of deaf people and using these collected thoughts to inspire others and transform services such as mental health. It is hoped that this collection can be produced in a number of formats, including an app on deaf life stories and wellbeing which is currently in development.
She said: “I have found that deaf life storytelling is a cultural practice around the world, and now as a Marie Curie Fellow at the Social Research with Deaf People group at The University of Manchester, I am looking into how deaf people in the UK, both natives and migrants, can use it to gain more insight into their wellbeing. I am still as fascinated by deaf people’s lives as I was in the beginning. I have been especially compelled and inspired by the strength and vitality that deaf people and sign language communities find in storytelling.”
More information about the Soapbox Science event on 18 June in Oxford, including an interview with Dr De Clerck, can be found here.