Wolverhampton's Bantock House Wins Award For Unique Deaf Project

By Jen Walker | 18 March 2008
shows a photo of someone holding a small device like a mobile phone, which has a small screen on it showing a video.

Deaf visitors to Bantock House are currently being provided with a BSL signed video devivce. © Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Service

Staff at Wolverhampton’s Bantock House are celebrating after being awarded £1,000 to fund a unique project working with deaf people.

The grant from History Today magazine will help to continue work on the Unheard Stories project and record the reminiscences of deaf people who live and work within Wolverhampton.

Unheard Stories explores the history of deaf people within the city, researching and recording the experiences of people who use sign language to communicate.

shows a still from a video - it is a man in victorian costume signing some words

An actor using sign language filmed at Bantock House and featured on the handheld MP4 player. © Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Service

Linda Ellis, ICT development officer at Bantock House, part of Wolverhampton City Council’s Arts and Museum Service, collected the cheque at a presentation ceremony held at the Cabinet War Rooms in London.

She said: “We are extremely happy to have received this award, not only because the money will allow us to do more filming, but also because of the national recognition it gives to this project.”

The Arts and Museum Service also agreed to match the grant, which is allowing the project team to work with Deansfield High School and Zebra Uno, whose two directors are deaf, to produce a British Sign Language video exploring deaf history.

The video will form part of an exhibition being held throughout May and June 2008 on the same theme, which is being set up with help from Gordon Hay, a local member of the British Deaf History Society.

shows a woman signing some words

© Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Service

Deaf visitors to Bantock House are currently being provided with a BSL signed video guide, which they can watch on a hand-held player as they look around the museum, allowing them to access the same information as hearing visitors, but also empowering them to explore the museum on their own.

However, the system at Bantock House differs from other known methods of accommodating for deaf people, as the videos are viewed on an MP4 player and have been filmed within the museum itself.

The organisation is one of only three cultural venues within the UK to provide signed information to their deaf visitors. The award, aimed to reward local projects that encourage others to want to know more of their history, was sponsored and initiated by Oval Books, and run in association with Victoria County History.

Shows the Renaissance in the Regions logo.

Writer Jen Walker is the 24 Hour Museum / West Midlands Museums Hub Diversity Arts Journalist for the West Midlands funded by Renaissance. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

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