It was brilliant that ARC chose to programme the British Deaf Association’s ground-breaking documentary, Power in Our Hands, in April. The film has been released in the 125th anniversary year of the British Deaf Association, Power in Our Hands explores the secret history and heritage of the Deaf community in the UK. The film was really well attended, with people travelling from as far as Newcastle to see it.
It is a unique social and cultural documentary containing newly digitised archive footage available publicly for the first time and focusses on the fight for civil rights by the Deaf community, to have autonomy and to have the right to be heard.
The archive film of the journey of the fight to have BSL recognised, is intercut with interviews from people today – some of the activists are featured both historically and in the modern day revealing that the campaigns continue to this day despite the amazing achievements of the movement.
The British Deaf Association said, “At the heart of the Deaf world is British Sign Language (BSL), the first language of many Deaf people. The Deaf community does not see deafness as a disability; instead positioning itself as a significant cultural and linguistic group with a rich and exciting history stretching back hundreds of years, and with the word ‘Deaf’ (with a capitalised ‘D’) an expression of cultural identity”.
Rather than focusing on medical definitions of hearing loss, Power in Our Hands presents Deaf people as an active and resilient community that has long campaigned for its language to be recognised. In common with the Disability Community and the Disability Rights Movement, external social barriers are revealed, the discriminatory factor. From the social scenes of the 1930s, to the 2000 march supporting BSL recognition, this documentary will give people a glimpse into Deaf culture that is mostly hidden from the hearing world.
The Q&A after the film was really valuable and equally well attended.