Literature and the Deaf Community
How many times have you come across Deaf people within the community who don’t read, possibly because they don’t enjoy books but mainly because the language in them isn’t accessible? It is strange that literary issues for the Deaf community haven’t been addressed. Yes, there have been several courses, workshops, classes and so on but how do we inspire reading? Literature opens up a wide arena of thought, dialogue and information, without which people remain ignorant and unaware of the wider community.
As a team, we have had many parents contact us because they want mentoring services for their children, to help support and bridge this learning gap, particularly for life skills. However an adult teaching a child can detract from the sheer excitement of learning, so when we talked amongst friends, ideas were sparked. We wanted to create something that was not only exciting, but something that introduced our target audience to literature, and we wanted to create fantasy role models who live, and demonstrate by example, life skills with their experiences.
Fantasy mixed with reality
These ideas led to the creation of a comic book geared towards young Deaf people. What resulted is a book that mixes fantasy with reality, providing Deaf awareness for everyone, but importantly providing role models and Heroes we can connect with as Deaf people.
The story has a central theme that almost anyone can relate to – how marginalised communities fight oppression for their basic human rights. How fear creates hate, and how hate can be overcome. The comic addresses these themes in the creative and epic story of four Heroes and one true King, looking at political structures and how they can be formed, what that means and how we approach them. Although the storyline is very intense, it’s all played out within a fantasy world created to make sure the story has huge entertainment value and to bring about change.
New venture will help young Deaf people – and it’s fun too!
So, here at Deaf Power Publishing House we are very proud to launch Signs And Voices, a series of comic books that has it all: brilliant, modern illustrations, exciting stories and no less than four Heroes!
But the books are more than thrilling stories; they are a way for deaf individuals to learn life skills and, above all, to boost the confidence of deaf individuals struggling with their deaf identities in mainstream communities. The Heroes themselves are deaf and communicate via the usual speech bubbles plus illustrated sign language – we’ve developed a novel, innovative way of drawing this that flows and doesn’t detract from the illustrations.
Our motive behind the books stemmed from the need to develop some life skills learning for young people through literature. As a team we have been delivering mentoring to young people, but we wanted to find a more engaging way of doing so. Our mentoring is based on one-to-one relationships and youngsters can find it hard to relate to adults. There are not many Deaf role models and a lot of youngsters struggle to communicate with hearing parents because they don’t know sign language. Also Deaf people are located in a wide geographic area so it is harder to reach them in person.
Reaching out to Deaf youngsters
Signs And Voices though can reach out and give young Deaf kids role models. They will relate to the Heroes in the stories because they are Deaf and are proud to be so. Quite often Deaf people feel at variance from mainstream society but the Deaf Heroes emphasise that it is all right to strike back against discrimination from hearing people who don’t accept them.
This educational and entertaining product will be launched on the 1st of August. The stories are fast-paced and exciting but with serious intent covering topics such as social barriers, diversity and history and heritage. The Heroes are role models surviving and thriving in a world where language could separate them.
The Heroes each have a different type of deafness so their powers come from their other senses. This ensures a range of audiences will identify with the Heroes and be inspired to explore their own abilities further.
BSL, the language our Heroes use
The comic is in two formats: Mainstream English and Easy English. This is to assist Deaf readers who might struggle with mainstream English. There are drawn signs within the comic as well to help with the meaning and also to introduce sign language to our readers, as it’s the native language of our Heroes. There is also a sign language vocabulary dictionary for our audiences to learn from. The comic book is an online first, with a graphic novel to follow later on.
There will be four series of Signs And Voices and each series consists of 12 episodes, to be released every four to six weeks.
We are developing more products and books too so Signs And Voices is already becoming big news.
Deaf Comic book is an entertainment product but covers literacy amongst Deaf communities, to get them engaged and enjoy the adventure!
You can follow our immersive story telling campaign online on Facebook, twitter and www.signsandvoices.com, don’t miss out, get your copy now, you’ll be delighted!
The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella, training and consultancy Deafworks, the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Look, Smile Chat campaign, and the National Theatre’s captioned plays.