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Donna West book launch, 25th April – a correction

A quick correction to my earlier entry.

Donna West’s book, entitled: “Signs of Hope: Deafhearing Family Life”, isn’t a joint-publication it is Donna’s work.

Just also to clarify the book launch is at the Graduate School for Education (which is separate from the Centre for Deaf Studies).  The launch is in room 410 at 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol BS8 1JA and it’s from 5pm to 7pm. BSL/English Interpreters are provided.

The link to the publisher page is http://www.c-s-p.org/Flyers/Signs-of-Hope–Deafhearing-Family-Life1-4438-3654-0.htm if you can’t make it and want more info.

Hope that clarifies things: see you there!

Steve

After birth abortions, my first half marathon and more!

Amidst the hectic life am trying to make some regular inputs into the blog on happenings in the ivory towers and outside of it – particularly Bristol life and all else. If you want to avoid the work and politics just go to the end headed ‘fun stuff’!

Genetics Work

On the work front life continues to be hectic, with all our interview data collected for our genetics and Deafhood project, we are now at the stage where we’re able to analyse data and the website, in BSL by Clive Mason, is up and running – hope people will contribute to the discussion forums to help with data collection on genetics issues 🙂

There’s only just over 6 months of the project left! Sociological research on genetics and Deafhood were put into perspective by the news that two geneticists who specialise in genetics and deafness won a prestigious ‘brainprize’ award of one million euros. [Thanks to Alison for this information.] Eh?? They will receive their award from none other than our Liz, the monarch. Their work includes the use of mice to carry out research experiments. It would be interesting to see what the one million will be spend on and a video has been released of the details of the award – a sign language version of this should be available soon.

I attended an interesting conference on the development of attempts to protect the use of genetic information via the use of anti-discrimination legislation at the European Level, which was held in Brussels. The key lead has been taken from the USA where they have already a law in place called the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA). There was a lot of overlapping with Disability Human Rights legislation and I found it striking that the lawyers and academics were looking to laws that have been developed thanks to the disabled people’s civil rights movement, and this includes Deaf activists.The law is chiefly to prevent discrimination against people in employment and insurance.

However, I am still trying to get over the concept of ‘after-birth abortion’: a euphemism for killing a newborn baby that was published in a peer-reviewed academic journal and received a strong reaction in defence of the original article. As the journal editors explain, this is not a new concept, but has been addressed by philosophers such as Peter Singer. This issue is a hard one to stomach coming as it does from self-confessed liberals.

Bristol Deaf Centre Issues

It’s good to be able to write positively (for now) following a meeting at Bristol Deaf Centre by Bristol City Council’s Health and Social Care department, last Wednesday 7th March. It was a cordial and frank exchange of views on the future of the departments services to the local Deaf people.

My summary of the meeting is that the Council recognise their actions could lead to the closure of the Deaf Centre that would leave Bristol Deaf people in a crisis situation (by the sudden withdrawal of funding that should have happened last November, plus the departure of staff who are under Avon Pension fund). So there will be the appointment of a Development Worker (over a period of 9 months) that represents, to me, a ‘stay of execution’.

Hopefully the local Bristol Deaf community will combine and communicate to spend that time with the new Development worker, developing a vision and future for the Bristol Deaf community – whether it means retaining the Deaf Centre or a different vision.

A lot of people have been working really hard to bring about this situation, including those who work at the Deaf centre as well as the Interim Working Group, legal advisors, and many unnamed individuals. There remains a lot to do, but there is a bit of time to sort things out. The Board of Directors, in particular, needs urgent support, which may become apparent in the next few weeks and months.

This news follows on from the news that hard campaigning has helped to save Elmfield Deaf School – so campaigning does work and massive waves of hands for those who worked hard to save the school!

Lighter stuff! running, football and rodolfo

I completed my first half marathon in Bath in the time of 1.59.21!! I’m well pleased. It was, unexpectedly, hot! Making for a tougher challenge, but fun and enjoyable, especially taking part with friends Pascale, Alison and John (cheered on by Naomi!), and taking in the Bath scenery.

£145 was raised for Bristol Deaf Football club, who are doing extremely well and have decided to enter a hearing league from September 2012! Then BDFC can show the world what they are really made of!

Rodolfo, from Mexico, had been on a visit to the Centre for Deaf Studies for two months and we had a leaving do for him last Friday – first a meal at Browns and then a drink-up at Woods. It’s been super having him with us and hope to make a visit to Mexico one day!

I’m back in the swimming pool, continuing my efforts to learn to swim – trying to get to grips with the breaststroke at the mo.

Future events upcoming

BSL debates at Bristol Deaf Centre are all set for this Thursday 15th March, and the BSL Symposium on Monday 19th March that I’m attending – there’s a banquet too on 18th March but cannot make that one.

Finally…

The brand new blog the limping chicken is looking good so far! Would be good to see more entries in BSL…which reminds me…!

TD

Updatings and my upcoming 13.1 mile slog sponsor appeal

Le old blog feels rusty and in need of a grand update so I’m onto it!

It’s been erratic, sporadic and manic : maybe good, sometimes maybe not.

Also…I discovered some great blogs to follow and link up with ; there’s some hip and coolness out there in the midst of our continuous struggles – with life, with authority, with people, and even within ourselves.

Great to see : I’m gonna link up to stuff and people and issues I like and value.

Got loads to write, but, for now, I’m excited to be running my first half marathon in just two weeks time 🙂

I’m hoping for some sponsors to inspire me when the going gets tough, plus to raise some money for Bristol Deaf Football Club – who are doing fantastically well but, as always, require money to keep going and attracting newer players: so, I’ve set up this sponsor page (it shows supporting Bristol Deaf Club, but I’ve asked for all funds to go to BDFC):

Full url is http://www.everyclick.com/tigerbeebathhalf

Tiger off to sleep, til next time 🙂

Bristol Deaf Centre – clock ticking down

Quick post here: the clock is fast ticking down…

8th February: Annual General Meeting of Bristol Deaf Centre (deadline for motions is Wednesday 25th January)

1st February: Open meeting of Interim Working Group: see the other blog for:

a. information about 1st February meeting

b. summary of information collected so far (in English, I understand BSL will be done asap).

Blog url is: http://savebristoldeafcentre.wordpress.com

Do you ask: ‘let’s wait and see’ or ‘what can be done, and what can I do?’

There are options and choices.

1st February is opportunity to see summary of information collected and discussion.

Steve

Urgent: Bristol Deaf Centre sale and closure imminent!

So it’s official re: the seriousness of the situation of the Bristol Deaf Centre, which faces imminent closure, as reported by the Evening Post just before Xmas. This follows an article by Charlie Swinbourne recently on the woes being faced by Bristol Deaf people – which is, to put it metaphorically, a large pair of scissors.  Cut, cut, cut. Cut the school, cut the Deaf Studies courses, cut the Deaf Centre.

Bristol Deaf people are now faced with the problem that unless a solution can be found within the next few weeks, there is a possibility that the Deaf Centre will become liable to Avon Pension Fund so as to meet a debt (£700k) that was not of local Deaf people’s making.

It is now known that as far back as Nov 2007 that there was a pension debt of £300k, and yet there was no pressure then on the Centre to sell to pay off that debt. More importantly, there was no known discussion with local Deaf people about what to do about such a growing debt in 2007 nor has there been up until now. [Click this link will open into a PDF Document.]

Ok, so there are obviously issues related to the past that come into play here; and these should be looked into.  And, also, let’s be honest: the pension issue is not one that only affects Deaf people’s Centre – there was a huge strike on November 30th about cuts in people’s pensions.

Yet as people were pointing out at the meeting, this is the Deaf Centre we are discussing: just take a look at what it has to offer Deaf, hard of hearing AND hearing people. For 127 years Deaf people have had a meeting place, to socialise together, to build networks with local and national communities, to teach sign language classes, to ensure the more vulnerable Deaf people had support and companionship. But, above all, where hearing parents of deaf children could take their young people and introduce them to the world of Deaf people, show them role models for their future, enable them to develop an identity.

On that note a personal detour. I myself, mainstreamed (like 90-odd percent of deaf children in the UK today), still vividly recall memories of attending the annual Deaf Centre Xmas parties, to which my mother took me. Vibrant, happy, full of fun, and Deaf adults who I never had an opportunity to see daily.

So whatever the situation, the politics, the pension, the council, the services, etc, this issue is about a community, a people, a culture, a way of life, a contribution to Bristol’s history – and the Centre itself is based in an area known for it’s local community diversity: Stokes Croft.

So the question is always: what is to be done to regenerate or save the centre? Now?

I’m heartened by the turn-out of numbers of people at recent EGMs (23rd September, 2nd November and 21st December) – one just 4 days before Xmas woah! All meetings were totally packed out, spilling out of the main hall, and the depth and extent of the passion in the air is a clear indication of just how much people value the Centre and want to see the continuation of a central meeting point, a hub, a club, a pub, call it what you want.

Question: can that passion be turned into something that will either save the Centre from closure or see the emergence of new beginnings?

So many people do care and want to act, do something, anything, to try and find a solution: be it through campaigns, meetings, become a trustee, or whatever. But at present, and let’s be honest, it appears the majority are spectators. They see fiery meetings, and are witnesses to a sparky debate. Not always a great spectacle, and a bit like seeing a car crash scene and finding yourself unable to look away.

Worse still is to be left feeling ‘oh what’s the point, the end is inevitable anyway’.

So, what’s next?

There is an AGM on February 8th. Motions need to be in to the AGM two weeks before that time.

Well, it’s certainly an option to sit around until then and wait for yet another fiery passionate meeting, allowing people to get up and have their say, but that is hardly the issue. The fact is that behind the scenes, plans are being put in place to sell the Centre and leave Bristol Deaf people either homeless or in a temporary place. Indefinitely, for all we know, for these situations leave one hard to know who to trust.

I have been active in the Interim Working Group to try and collect information about the situation the Centre finds itself in. [Please see below.] And I’m exhausted from it, especially as it has been almost Kafkaesque in nature – you know those situations where you reach a line, finally, only to find it has been moved forward or sideways…yet again.

The Interim Group suggested it would need a period of 6 or so months (from November 2011) to gather information but all the while it has been doing so, events have moved on.

We may well have reached a point where there is little more we can do in terms of gathering information.

[By the way, see below for an outline that shows what the Interim Working Group was set up for and what shady activities it has been up to…as you’ll see, nothing sinister. Just trying to get information together.]

Now let’s take a look at the Elim Housing offer to buy the building and reconvert the land into a block of flats, allowing the Deaf Centre to rent out the ground floor (at a cost) on a 125-year lease.  But does their offer really represent an adequate or fair ‘option’. How much is the Deaf Centre really worth? What would it sell for? Evaluations reported in the Evening Post are not independent of the sale to Elim Housing, which, by the way, has a church of the same name just round the corner from the Centre – I can’t work out if the two are linked are not…

Should a fresh, new group of trustees be set up to begin a re-building process? If so, who might they be? What might they do? What support would they get?  Would they simply become a ‘mopping up’ brigade of the type we saw after the August riots? And what exactly would they have to build with in terms of money, capital, and people?

I am not writing pretending that I have answers to the situation. But there is one thing I do feel quite strongly about, as I’m sure a lot of people do: The Deaf Centre belongs to Bristol Deaf people: it has that name for a reason. The current Centre was bought in 1973 on that basis and it is through no fault of the community that a debt of £700k has built up. It has been the home of the Bristol Deaf community, the meeting point, the focus of much that happens in the Bristol Deaf Community.

It would be completely unjust and unfair for all of that to be lost, or reduced, to pay a pension fund deficit that is not of Bristol Deaf people’s own making.

entry ends

Statement from Interim Working Group members for meeting of 21/12/11

On Wednesday 2nd November, an EGM of the Bristol Centre for Deaf People was held.

At the meeting, it was voted on and agreed an Interim Working Group would be set up to obtain information for the benefit of the Bristol Deaf Community. The information would be required to help Deaf people make a decision about the future of the Deaf Centre.

On Wednesday 16th November, the Interim Working Group held an open meeting at the Deaf Centre. We explained that we had held a meeting with a very experienced legal adviser and the adviser gave us a list of important information that was necessary before the Deaf community could make informed decisions about the future of the Centre.

We explained that our aim was to try to obtain 8 pieces of information and we will list it here and explain what has happened in response, in bold:

Firstly, we want to express our thanks to people who have agreed and been willing to meet us in the last few weeks

  1. the minutes of all meetings of trustees held during the calendar years 2008 to 2011;

These have not been provided

  1. the accounts to the year ended 31 March 2010 (as recited on the website of the Charity Commissioners);
  1. all draft accounts prepared in respect of any period after the year ended 31 March 2010;

These have been provided and are available – it is now up to the Board to distribute these to you.

  1. the “governing documents” referred to on the website of the Charity Commissioners, namely the “constitution adopted 24 January 1979 as amended 26 September 1984 and 5 December 1990” plus any documents effecting material changes subsequent to those documents;

These have not been provided 

  1. the original title deeds to the land and buildings at 16-18 Kings Square (now registered under title no. BL38229 – including but not limited to the conveyance dated 16 February 1973 referred to in the Charges Register) ;

These have not been provided, but we understand the land and buildings belongs entirely to the Bristol Centre for Deaf People

  1. any emails or other communications relating to the nature and extent of the pension deficit/liability;

Some information has been provided and the Board will be making this available at the meeting for 21/12/11 

  1. correspondence (including emails) between Bristol City Council and the trustees/centre relating to funding / its withdrawal; and

 These have not been provided

  1. written confirmation that no assets or functions have been transferred to the private company limited by guarantee incorporated on 5 August 2010 under company number 07336999 under the name “Centre for the Deaf Limited”.

No written information has been provided – however we are assured that no transfers have been made.

We have reached a point where we have done everything possible to try to obtain the above information for your benefit; it is up to the Board to provide the information to you and we have done our best and worked hard to try to get them to provide the necessary information.

IWG meetings and legal communication

November 21st – meeting between Elim Housing, Deaf Centre, Bristol City Council

November 23rd – meeting with legal advisor

November 30th – meeting with representative of Deaf Centre board

December 8th – meeting with representatives of Bristol City Council

December 12th – meeting with legal advisor

December 20th – meeting with staff at Deaf Centre

The legal adviser has written two strong letters requesting information from the Board

The IWG has communicated via email regularly with the legal advisor, Bristol City Council and a representative from the Board.

The IWG has met on a total of four occasions since November 16th

Ends

2nd Symposium in Applied Sign Linguistics – Documenting Sign Languages for Learning and Teaching Purposes

After the successful 1st symposium that took place in September 2009, the 2nd one is fast coming up at the Centre for Deaf Studies, Bristol, from June 30th to July 2nd.

This second symposium aims at bringing together scholars, researchers and educational practitioners to discuss the ‘documentation’ of sign languages for teaching and learning purposes.

Presenters include: Dr. Onno Crasborn from the Netherlands and Dr Lorraine Leeson from the Republic of Ireland.

For students who register early it’s only £25 (£50 for non-students), though it goes up for late registers.

Full details are available through this website:

http://www.bris.ac.uk/deaf/english/about/symposium2011/

I will be there at various stages, most likely on the Saturday, so I hope to see you there!

Steve

 

Excellent Press Release from Irish Deaf Society regarding Italian Parliament proposals

Thanks again to Alison, for passing on a copy of this excellent Press Release:

At the moment, the Italian government is discussing the enactment of
the Italian Sign Language (LIS) bill at the moment. However, a
proposal was made to rename the Italian Sign Language as the language
of mime and gesture (LMG), in effect reducing and demeaning the status
of Italian Sign Language. The Italian Deaf community is horrified by
this proposal and wants to protest against this proposal. It has asked
the global Deaf community to join the protests. Vigils have been
organised in front of Italian embassies in several cities including
Belfast, London, Edinburgh, Washington DC and Berlin.

Many Deaf Italian people are rallying in Italy to protest against this
proposal. Ms. Elena Radutzky will be speaking in front of the
legislature on Tuesday (24 May) and a rally is being organised in Rome
on Wednesday, May 25th.  About 40,000 people use Irish Sign language
here in Ireland and occurrences such as this one are a serious
ramification to our campaign to have Irish Sign Language (ISL) being
recognised as a full and official language. So we stand in solidarity
with the Italian Deaf community and the global Deaf community.

Below is an extract from Deaf man, Dr. John Bosco Conama’s letter to
the Italian ambassador to Ireland:

While if the proposal is carried out by your parliament, it can have
wider effects on nations outside Italy. Hence I pen this letter to
express my strong concern at this proposal and share concerns with the
Italian Deaf community. The proposal is clearly a serious counter to
years of research, which confirm that signed languages such as LIS are
the genuine languages as spoken languages. The proposal can have
unimagined negative effects on the well being of current and future
generations of the Italian Deaf community.

The status of the community is frequently determined by the societal
and political attitude towards their language. Degrading LIS would
bring negative effects on the Italian Deaf community. Should a
proposal be adopted, it would be seen as a negative reaction to the
successful conclusion of UN’s convention on rights for disabled people
which contains clauses recognising the rights of Deaf people to use
their signed languages. (Note: ironically Italy has ratified this
convention).

Your country holds an unenviable position where the infamous congress
on Deaf education was held in Milan in 1880 and resolutions were
passed at this congress calling for the regression of signed
languages. These effects of these resolutions are still felt worldwide
and this congress is a constant theme in Deaf and cultural studies
worldwide. Surely, your country does not want to add on another
notoriety to this unenviable position.

Irish Deaf Society
30 Blessington Street,
Dublin 7.

DVD Launch Event Details

Time
Thursday 31 March · 18:30 – 21:30

Location

Friends House, Euston, Central London

173-177 Euston Road
London, United Kingdom

Created by:

More info

The event is to Launch Dr Steven Emery’s Book and DVD in British Sign Language ‘Citizenship and the Deaf Community’. Dr Emery will give a brief presentation also on his citizenship and group rights research.

The event is kindly funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

The Friends House room has room for 85 people, it is a public event and there will be BSL/English Interpreters.

It will be run by the Centre for Deaf Studies, Bristol.

The Book/DVD is produced by Ishara Press, University of Central Lancashire

FaceBook Page

As revolution sweeps the middle east…

In the 1990’s it was the ‘communist’/state capitalist regimes that fell one by one: in the 2010’s it’s the middle east dictatorships of Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Bahrain and now Iraq that are under threat from popular revolt!  The demands are popular: improve services, spend funds on reducing poverty, allow voting, improve the lives of the people, of the workers and the rural poor.

My question is: how do Deaf people in the region view these events? Are there any bloggers, video’s, eye-witnesses from the region?

Our own government  are 100% complicit in the repression of the people in the region, selling weapons of destruction to states such as Bahrain, turning a blind eye to Mubarak’s repressive regme, courting Gadaffi, etc.

And as for the mass media, if this was happening in the UK or USA, whose version of events would the wider world be getting?

My purpose for this blog entry is to request links where we might be able to disseminate eye-witness accounts of Deaf people at these events. Their views, hopes, feelings, aspirations, and their place and space at the events.  There is already one account from Egypt, captured on video and spread via U-tube during those momentous events*. Are there any more? I would imagine so and would be interested in seeing what we might have missed.

No doubt the people are far too busy taking to the streets, protesting, uniting with others; in addition, there may be little internet access, and what access there is, is being curtailed by the authorities!

 

*thanks to iMephisto for originally drawing my attention to the U-tube clip through Facebook