Deaf News: Is See Hear, the BBC’s long-running series for Deaf people, under threat?

Posted on September 10, 2013

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There is intense speculation this morning that the BBC’s long-running series for Deaf people, See Hear, is at risk of disappearing from our screens.

Last night, a Facebook page called ‘Save See Hear’ was set up, gaining over 280 ‘Likes’ by this morning. There is also a brand-new Twitter account called @SaveSeeHear with 32 followers (at the time of writing).

In the ‘About’ section of the Facebook page, it says: The BBC is threatening to axe See Hear, after nearly 32 years. We cannot allow this to happen and we need your support.

A comment on the Facebook page says:

BBC See Hear is currently at risk. Instead of wait around for a no and try and respond to this (like CDS in Bristol), we need to move now. We have a couple of weeks to achieve this. More information as we have it. As a first point, please could you invite people to like this page. If anyone wants to help out with the website / front end campaigning / petition, make yourself known.

The reference to CDS in the comment above refers to Bristol University’s Centre for Deaf Studies, which was closed at the end of July after a long campaign, and suggests that Deaf figures who saw the failure of that campaign may be mobilising the Deaf community ahead of a possible decision on See Hear’s future, in order to prevent the programme meeting the same fate.

See Hear is over 30 years old, having been launched in October 1981.

Although there have been regular special editions of the programme – such as documentaries or episodes focusing on subjects like education and technology – its usual format is a magazine programme featuring different stories from the Deaf world, including key issues affecting deaf people.

In its heyday, the series brought the key issues of the day to the Deaf community, which was particularly important in the days before the internet, email and text messaging. The show is still transmitted in BSL, with presenters using sign language, and an in vision signer appearing for spoken sections of the programme.

However, the series has changed markedly in recent years. Where once it was aimed primarily at an audience of Deaf sign language users, its focus is now more broad, a change which has been embraced by some as being more inclusive, while others have criticised the show for falling between different perspectives on deafness.

Having been shown at the weekend since its inception, the series moved to a midweek slot in 2007, a change which many people felt robbed the series of its profile. There were also huge change offscreen following the change of slot, with the programme’s production team moving first to Birmingham, then to Bristol, losing members of staff each time.

However, many viewers feel the show has improved markedly in the last year and there are high hopes for the next series.

The show has employed many Deaf staff since it began, giving many their first break in television, and most recently, appointed William Mager as its Series Producer ahead of the next series (see our exclusive interview here), only the second Deaf person to lead the show in its 33 year history.

The show has already received support from Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who sent this tweet when she saw this story:

This site will bring you more news about whether the programme is really under threat or not, as soon as we find out.

How do you feel about the possibility of See Hear disappearing from our screens? Tell us in the comments below.

By Charlie Swinbourne, Editor

The Limping Chicken’s supporters provide: sign language interpreting and communications support (Deaf Umbrella), online BSL video interpreting (SignVideo), captioning and speech-to-text services (121 Captions), online BSL learning and teaching materials (Signworld), theatre captioning (STAGETEXT), Remote Captioning (Bee Communications), visual theatre with BSL (Krazy Kat) , healthcare support for Deaf people (SignHealth), theatre from a Deaf perspective (Deafinitely Theatre ), specialist lipspeaking support (Lipspeaker UK), Deaf television programmes online (SDHH), language and learning (Sign Solutions), BSL interpreting and communication services (Lexicon Signstream), sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting (Action Deafness Communications) education for Deaf children (Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton), and legal advice for Deaf people (RAD Deaf Law Centre).