DCAL's Tales from the Road
26 February 2012
DCAL and the community
readers of the DCAL newsletter will have read that DCAL was to take a
Roadshow to six UK cities during 2011. The Roadshow was a chance for
DCAL staff to meet with members of the Deaf Community and discuss
DCAL’s research together. Some readers may be amongst the hundreds who
attended the events. Now with the last leg of the tour having been
Belfast in September 2011, there’s been time for the DCAL team to
reflect back on the significance of the tour and how it all went.
Funding for the Roadshow was obtained from the University College London (UCL) Beacons for Public Engagement programme. These awards are given for innovative projects that seek to engage with audiences that the university does not traditionally talk or listen to, or those who are socially excluded.
DCAL postgraduate researcher and member of the Roadshow team, Robert Adam, explains more: “Deaf people do not know as much about their sign language as hearing people know about their spoken language. This is because it is not studied as a language in schools. So Deaf people do not always understand the nature of their language and how being Deaf can influence their experience. Similarly Deaf people do not have equal access to society because not everyone can sign and interpreters are not readily available. This affects peoples’ everyday experience and it also affects access to information that can be really important to them. Critically, in the past, research on Deaf people and sign language has often not been accessible for Deaf people. DCAL believes that it’s an important part of our role to disseminate research findings in BSL to the Deaf Community.”
With the £12,000 funding award DCAL staff were able to travel to Birmingham in March, Glasgow in April, Newcastle and Manchester in May, Bristol in July and finally Belfast.
At each Roadshow, held in Deaf centres, three to four DCAL researchers spoke about their work on different topics. These included language acquisition, the Deaf brain, Deaf interpreters, Deaf people and autism, Deaf people and dementia, the sign segmentation project and the British Sign Language (BSL) Corpus project.
Deaf people who attended the events came via a variety of networks. Other participants included those who work with the Deaf Community such as interpreters and social workers. With a good number of attendees at each event it demonstrated to DCAL that people are really keen to learn about the Centre’s work. Most of the feedback was positive, with Deaf visitors saying they enjoyed the days, that the research projects were interesting and well-explained and how good it was to have access to the research that is being carried out by DCAL at first hand. People also came forward with useful suggestions about future DCAL research.
For further details, visit the DCAL website: www.dcal.ucl.ac.uk. More public engagement pages are being added over time and all the presentations from the DCAL Deaf Open Day and DCAL Roadshows will eventually be available. It is hoped that DCAL’s website will become a really useful resource for Deaf people to continue to learn about, and get involved in, DCAL’s research.
Members of the Birmingham DCAL Roadshow team (left to right): Robert Skinner (freelance interpreter), Dr Jordan Fenlon (BSL Corpus Project), Robert Adam (DCAL researcher and PhD student, Dr Kearsy Cormier (DCAL Senior Researcher), and Gerardo Ortega (PhD student, DCAL).
The Roadshow audience in Glasgow focus intently on explanations of DCAL’s research.