Institutional deafness? Archbishop, NO!

Posted on June 25, 2013

The new leader of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Justin Welby, coined a clumsy phrase on Thursday last week when, in a speech to activists in London, he asked the church to do away with its image of having ‘institutional deafness’.

His definition of institutional deafness, I suspect, is a large organisation ignoring what people tell them. He’s saying that there is a perception that to be part of the Anglican church is to routinely ignore what the rest of society thinks. But that’s not deafness.

Maybe he means ‘institutional selective hearing’ or ‘institutional covering your ears and saying ‘la la la’  because deafness and ignorance are different things. He’s apparently a smart chap and knows the difference; maybe he thought no one was listening.

Given the average age of worshippers and the many Anglican missions for the deaf worldwide, there are going to be quite a lot of genuinely deaf people in the Anglican institution anyway – no clever speech writing is going to change that.

So please, Archbishop, if you mean ignorance, don’t say deafness. We don’t really want your new phrase catching on.

By Andy Palmer, The Limping Chicken’s Editor-at-Large. 

Andy volunteers for the Peterborough and District Deaf Children’s Society on their website, deaf football coaching and other events as well as working for a hearing loss charity. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP (all views expressed are his own).

The Limping Chicken’s supporters provide: Deaf Theatre (Deafinitely Theatre), Sign language interpreting and communications support (Deaf Umbrella), online BSL video interpreting (SignVideo), captioning and speech-to-text services (121 Captions), online BSL tuition (Signworld), theatre captioning (STAGETEXT), legal advice for Deaf people (RAD Deaf Law Centre), Remote Captioning (Bee Communications), visual theatre with BSL (Krazy Kat) , healthcare support for Deaf people (SignHealth), specialist lipspeaking support (Lipspeaker UK), deaf television programmes online (SDHH), sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting (Action Deafness Communications) education for Deaf children (Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton), and a conference on deafness and autism/learning difficulties on June 13th in Manchester (St George Healthcare group).

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. 

Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.

The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:


Posted in: Andy Palmer