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The British Deaf Association Secures Heritage Lottery Fund Investment

27 November 2013

Hello! Today the BDA has received some good news, which we can now reveal through a press release. Let me explain.

The British Deaf Association has received a grant of £719,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to preserve and enable access to their extensive film and video archive, it was announced today. The three-year project aims to digitise this collection and put it at the heart of a wide-ranging education and outreach programme that will address the significant lack of resources focussed on the cultural history of the Deaf community in the UK.

The project will carry out essential conservation work, digitise the collections and join them through a single web portal, allowing on-line public access to the collections for the first time. The BDA will work hard to encourage engagement with the films, enhancing their value by locating and interviewing people featured in the original footage. Lastly an educational outreach programme, reflecting the social history of Deaf people and promoting awareness of their rich heritage is planned to take place through local cinema screenings, community networks, and in formal education.

The BDA Film & Video Archive contains 136 film reels and 498 videotapes collected between 1931 and 2003 – many of which have not being viewed in over fifty years. This valuable collection of material captures the Deaf community participating in day trips, conferences, holidays, youth camps, campaign rallies and sporting events – including rare footage of the 1935 World Games for the Deaf (now called Deaflympics) held in London. The films cover a wide range of geographical locations both nationally and internationally, and reveal increasingly rare forms of British Sign Language.

Dr Terry Riley, Chair of the BDA’s Deaf Heritage Project Steering Group, said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. Preserving and enabling access to the BDA Film and Video Collection will strengthen the Deaf community’s ownership of their own heritage, and increase awareness of the rich history of the Deaf community in the hearing world. Furthermore, this project is about preserving our language, and is in keeping with the BDA’s overall mission to empower Deaf people and to serve as a guardian of British Sign Language.”

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “We were really inspired by this project which will capture the stories of those who have lived through a period of significant change. The development of British Sign Language had a huge impact on the lives of many deaf, and hearing, people and the digitisation of the BDA’s archive will create an important online resource for the future.”

For further information please contact Jemma Buckley, Deaf Heritage Project Manager: hlf.films@bda.org.uk 

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