New film project helping deaf children in South Africa to tell their own stories

A new project launched in South Africa by The University of Manchester and the University of the Witwatersrand hopes to raise awareness of the vulnerability of deaf children in the country, as well as altering society’s attitudes towards them, by using images and film created by the children themselves.

Deaf children and youth face discrimination and exclusion from society in South Africa - they are not given adequate opportunities for acquiring language, building meaningful relationships, receiving specialised healthcare and receiving equal education. All of this vastly decreases their life chances, and infringes their human rights.

A multi-disciplinary international collaboration, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Global Challenges Research Fund, is bringing together visual anthropology, social research and deaf studies in an effort to positively shift social attitudes towards deaf children and youth.

Over the next eighteen months, The University of Manchester’s Social Research with Deaf people group and Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology - in partnership with the Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand - will help deaf children to tell their own stories about their lives through images and film.

The work will be delivered in close partnership with NGOs HI HOPES and THRIVE, and is endorsed by South Africa’s Department of Health. Deaf people, hearing people and parents of deaf children will all work together to achieve this ambitious programme.

Deaf young people face very particular challenges in achieving their potential and becoming full citizens. As visual people, they also have unique resources on which to draw. Through the pioneering use of community-based film methods, this project tunes in to their latent strengths as visual learners with the capacity to develop new resiliencies given the right opportunities.
Professors Alys Young and Andrew Irving

“We are thrilled to be launching this multi-disciplinary research collaboration in the year that the Wits Centre for Deaf Studies celebrates its 20th anniversary”, says Professor Claudine Storbeck, Director for the Centre of Deaf Studies, University of the Witwatersrand.

To see more about the project, including film and imagery, visit http://deafcamsa.net/.

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