The Translated Deaf Self

A brief story on the project

Using an innovative approach to re-interpret Deaf Studies and Interpreting research through art, 4 Deaf sign language using artists were commissioned through Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Follow-on Funding to ‘translate’ the findings of the Translating the Deaf Self project that was initially funded through an AHRC Research Innovation Grant.  The original project investigated deaf sign language users’ experiences of being known through translation and the representation of deaf people through sign language interpreters and the potential impact on wellbeing. This project explored the findings from that project through artistic exploration and transformation in the visual arts as a means of engaging more deaf people and communities with these ideas.

This interdisciplinary project was led jointly by a deaf-hearing research team from the Social Research with Deaf People group in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester and the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in the Department of Languages  & Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University.

The team worked collaboratively with Deaf Explorer – an artist agency supporting Deaf creatives – to support artists-in-residence in Deaf community organisations, including Deaf Action in Edinburgh, DeafPLUS in London, Manchester Deaf Centre and the Royal Association of the Deaf in Romford.

What have we done?

Three professional artists, and one artist intern, spent a period of time in each organisation where they were given the time, space and resources to delve into the issues reported in the preceding Translating the Deaf Self project with local Deaf people, which informed their artistic inspirations.

This was a community-participatory project that not only involved local deaf communities but also offered the opportunity for deaf artist capacity building through the recruitment of a new deaf artist to shadow one of the professional artists as an intern. As well as creating artworks to represent the concept of the translated Deaf self, the deaf artists were interviewed about their thought processes, in order to further feed into our explorations of this concept.

One of the legacies of the project is this website, which features information about the artists, the exhibitions of the artwork and digital photos of the artwork.