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BBC Radio 3 – My Deaf World series of radio Essays (14 to 18 June)

June 7, 2021

A press release:


Produced by Camilla Arnold and Sophie Allen for Flashing Lights Media

Executive Producer- Mark Rickards

A five-part series of essays that explores what it is like to be deaf in 21st century Britain. Each essayist has their own personal experience and take on what being part of the deaf community means to them. Some share the little-known divisions and politics of the deaf community and others share what makes the community so special and unique to the point where some deaf people consider themselves as a linguistic minority rather than disabled.

In a special approach to the usual format of the Essays on BBC Radio 3, three of the episodes are voiced by actors, while two of them are written and read in first person.

This series of essays is produced by Flashing Lights Media, a deaf-led television production company that aims to bridge the gap between the deaf community and the mainstream to break down cultural stereotypes and encourages new perspectives on the world around us.

Monday 14 June

Written by Abigail Gorman

Voiced by Natalia Campbell

Proud  activist, Abigail Gorman, takes a personal look at what it means to be deaf when most of society would prefer you not to be. She shares what it was like growing up in a deaf family who were proud of their deaf identity but why she struggled to embrace her deafness for a long time. Abigail tells us of the arguments she had with her Mum when she first decided to get a cochlear implant- her Mum saw getting a cochlear implant as a rejection of the deaf community- and how she has finally come to terms with her deaf identity while learning more about a concept called audism- which explores the different approaches in the deaf community between people who strive to hear language and use speech and those who are deaf and use sign language. Abigail ends the essay on why she is now proud to be deaf and how the deaf community is a linguistic minority. She affirms her new-found belief that deafness is not a disability but a cultural identity. 

Tuesday 15 June

Written by Robert Adam

Voiced by Ian Drysdale

Australian born academic Robert Adam takes us on a nostalgic journey through his early childhood and shares what it was like growing up in a family with deaf parents and siblings.   He explores the dichotomy of writing an essay for a medium that he’s never had access to- radio. Within this exploration, Robert also considers what his voice might sound like if he could hear and speak. Robert takes us on a trip down memory lane as he shares his childhood memories of realising that not everyone in the world were deaf, the mystery of how telephones work and his fond memories of the ‘Deaf Club’ that was the centre of the deaf community. He ends the essay on the thought that when people think of  being deaf as an isolating disability, they are not taking into account the rich, diverse and rounded cultural life that Robert and other members of the deaf community experience. .

Wednesday 16 June

Written and read by Teresa Garratty

Filmmaker Teresa Garratty gives us a frank and honest insight into what it was like to lose her hearing at the age of 18 and how she had to learn “how to be deaf”. There was no manual that she could read, no tutorial on You Tube with tips on how to cope with hearing loss. She discusses how her family and friends would express concerns about her getting involved in “that deaf world” as they saw the deaf community and its culture as alien.  Teresa decided to learn sign language so that she could join the deaf community,however, she  reveals how then she realised that sign language can be perceived differently within the  deaf community. Sign Language can be like currency- sometimes it’s the case of the more fluency you have the wealthier and more respected you become.

Thursday 17 June

Written by Sannah Gulamani

Voiced by Kaajel Patel

Sannah Gulamani, a Research Assistant at University College London, shares with us how the existence of deafness can actually be seen as a positive, and not a negative because of inventions such as subtitles and video calls. Sannah, because of navigating through a world of ‘can’ts’, decided to study music at university. But her love of music is often questioned by those who believe that music is preserved for those with a ‘good ear’. Sannah delves in deeper to discuss how her intersectional identities are often misunderstood, and what identity means in terms of belonging. Within this exploration, she examines her interest in the linguists of British Sign Language and what propelled the career shift from music to sign language linguistics. Finally, Sannah explores  whether it can be claimed that the deaf community is a space that is welcoming and safe for all deaf individuals? She looks into how racist and offensive signs are still being used as a result of white fragility and privilege.

Friday 18 June

Written and read by Sandy Deo

Sign Language Interpreter Sandy Deo brings a different experience to the Essay series, as she looks back at her cultural heritage and considers the realities, privileges and responsibilities of growing up as a child of a deaf adult – while not being deaf herself. She talks frankly about how she knew council and banking details from a young age because she had to interpret for her Mum but how this was an advantage as it meant that she was reading Matilda at the age of six.  Sandy tells us of funny anecdotes where she and her siblings would take advantage of having a deaf Mum but also talks honestly about the realities of having to interpret for her Mum at family events as other members didn’t know how to sign and how being her Mum’s ears means she now can’t sleep deeply because of years of training to listen out for any odd noises in the house. But Sandy ends the essay on how being a child of a deaf parent is an identity that she’ll proudly own as the experience has instilled in her a drive to fight for, and to stand up for those who perhaps need a louder voice.

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