Deafining the Future-Stephanie Barrows

Deafining the Future

‘The best way to predict the future is to create/invent it’ is an often used quote. When we think or say, “Somebody needs to do something about being inclusive of the Deaf Community”, let’s complete that sentence with “and that somebody is me”.

One in eight people of working age in the UK have hearing loss (source: RNID) and represent an enormous amount of potentially overlooked talent to be catalysts for change.

You may already know that I am half deaf/half hearing (0% hearing in right ear since birth). In certain situations/circumstances I am hard of hearing. My partial deafness doesn’t define me. I am a Passion Project Coach, Writer and Actor, a Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Colleague and a member of my local and global communities, who happens to have a hearing difficulty. (See *Blog Competition Winner* What Signing Means to Me by Stephanie Barrows – Signature)

I support visionary people to create and invent solutions to overcome challenges and to achieve your passion projects, your dreams. To empower, motivate and inspire you to be the difference you want in your world. My own passion project is to involve and include the Deaf Community in the Arts. I am taking action to achieve this right now.

My vision of the future is that within the next 40 years, sign language is a normal part of everyday life for everyone. I am taking steps to turn this dream into reality, personally, professionally and in my communities.

I am 62 now and a prime example that you are never too old to learn! I was awarded BSL Level 1 in 2022 and am currently taking classes with a view to completing BSL Level 2 in 2023. Utilising my existing skills and talents, supplemented with learning BSL, I want to use my voice to raise awareness of Deaf culture and promote inclusion of the Deaf Community from birth. Baby steps first, though, eh. We need parents, families, businesses and communities to incorporate sign language into our everyday communication.

What if we could start from birth? Babies who have multi-lingual parents/families often naturally become multi-lingual if regularly spoken to in different languages. Therefore, if BSL is used hand in hand with spoken language with all babies regardless of hearing ability from birth, many of these amazing new humans will be able to communicate with the Hearing and Deaf Community from cradle to grave. If we started today, many of the babies born this year could be parents/grandparents, performers and teachers naturally using spoken and sign language simultaneously every day within the Deaf and Hearing community during the next 40 years.

Currently reaching out to local schools, I’m discovering how the local community could support BSL being taught at least to GCSE level as part of the curriculum. Asking how communities can become involved in learning it ourselves, ideally in conjunction with these schools, and forming practice groups to improve our communication.

I am supporting Deafinitely Theatre (https://www.deafinitelytheatre.co.uk/how-were-funded) and Redbridge Drama Centre (https://platform.nationalfundingscheme.org/FOCH006?charity=FOCH006#.Y2UOInbP2M-) not only to teach and train Deaf students within the Arts, but also to:
• Improve Deaf awareness
• Increase inclusivity and accessibility to work in theatres, front and backstage, and to
• Improve accessibility and provide BSL interpreters for all public performances.
One in eight people of working age in the UK have hearing loss (source: RNID) and represent an enormous amount of potentially overlooked talent to be catalysts for change.

My vision of the future is becoming reality. Inspired by a poem I wrote some time ago (see below), I’m thrilled to be working on an exciting new theatre project that my co-writer and I are staging during International Women’s Week 2023 at Redbridge Drama Centre.
“Deafining Wernicke” is about a Deaf Girl’s search for her voice through a magical fantasy. It will incorporate BSL (and dance!) and also have a BSL Interpreter as well as spoken English. Somebody needs to talk to and include the Deaf Community at every step of the production. That somebody is us. We are taking baby steps. We are a work in progress. We are listening to and including Deaf people in the Arts to create and be the difference we want in our world over the next 40 years.

©Stephanie Barrows / January 2023
stephaniebarrowsd2r@gmail.com
IG: stephanie_barrows / Twitter: @D2Rcoaching

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