Deaf Education & Audiology: a journey through artefacts, archives and creativity

by | Apr 20, 2020 | Arts Management and Museology, Engagement and outreach, Equality and Diversity, Teaching and Learning | 0 comments

The histories and lived experiences of D/deafness are rich and complex. Extraordinary technological advances have been made in the exploration of hearing, alongside a better appreciation of the social and psychological impact of sensory perception on learning. The “Deaf Education & Audiology” exhibition offers an insight into the varied historical and contemporary approaches in deaf education and audiology, from a range of perspectives. It also provokes questions around how we understand, collect and communicate D/deafness in a dominant hearing world. The exhibition is part of the 100 year anniversary celebrations of Deaf Education and Audiology at The University of Manchester.

The exhibition forms part of an on-going practice, teaching and research collaboration “AudioLAB” – between Sheila Fidler (ManCAD) and Ashton (ICP) – exploring creative methods for addressing patient rehabilitation and cultural understanding around hearing loss, sensory perception and communication. AudioLAB initiates and facilitates unique projects and training around the intersections between healthcare science, arts and technology. Together, we bring this exhibition to the Manchester Library, following on from three previous participatory exhibition projects with ManCAD and communities, curated by Dr Ashton, on hearing loss and medical narratives (2014) speech and storytelling (2015) and hearing loss and social isolation in South Asian Communities (2016-17).

Target audience (various ages and ethnicities): D/deaf visitors, health practitioners, students and academics/researchers, policy makers, charity representatives, social care staff, older people, young people and schools. The exhibition will also be co-produced by the above.

This exhibition contributes to the modernization of attitudes towards deafness, by providing wider audiences with the opportunity to understand and respect the purpose of their own hearing and relationship to diverse sensory perception. The exhibition evolves new partnerships with D/deaf creative and cultural organisations and practitioners, and is
Audiology and Deaf Education students and staff will use the exhibition as a platform to discuss their work, research and practices with wider publics during public workshops. The workshops will also offer the opportunity for D/deaf individuals and groups to share their lived experiences in an informal and creative environment.

ICP MA Heritage Studies student will engage with the exhibition in their Introduction to Critical Heritage course. Hearing-loss has suffered a certain “stigma” due to derogatory and misleading representations through history. Rarely do individuals experiencing hearing-loss have opportunities to tell their narratives, and have their experiences disseminated to wider audiences outside of their immediate family or friendship circle. Given that the current population of Greater Manchester with age related hearing loss over the age of 50 is approximately 357,0000 (Davis 1995) this is an important area of humanities and science which requires continued engagement. 

Dame Evelyn Glennie opened the exhibition and gave a Masterclass to students from Music and Audiology.

External Partner(s): Sheila Fidler (ManCAD)

Funding source(s): SALC SR fund

Project duration: 2019

Project lead(s): Dr Jenna C. Ashton