The Guardian publishes obituary for Deaf and disabled rights campaigner Arthur Verney

Posted on November 19, 2013

The Guardian has published an obituary for the Deaf and disabled rights campaigner Arthur Verney, and it’s well worth reading in order to understand his achievements and the impact he had through his work with the British Deaf Association, European Union of the Deaf, and Disabled Peoples’ International, among other organisations.


In 1980, Arthur Verney, who has died aged 70 from complications following surgery, became general secretary of the British Deaf Association (BDA). At that time it was a predominantly social and welfare charity run mostly by hearing people. Arthur was in large part responsible for transforming it into a modern campaigning organisation led by deaf people, and went on to champion the rights of deaf and disabled people across Europe.

When Arthur arrived at the BDA, there was a feeling in the membership that it needed to change, and in 1983 John (“Jock”) Young was elected its first deaf chairman. In the years that followed, deaf people only were elected to the executive council, and deaf people were appointed to senior positions.

Linguistic research in the 1970s had shown that sign languages were individual languages in their own right. British Sign Language (BSL), for example, differs from English in its grammatical structure. This recognition provided deaf people with the opportunity to redefine how they viewed themselves: as members of a linguistic minority rather than a disabled group. This perspective remains the premise on which the BDA’s work is based.

Read the full obituary here:

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Posted in: deaf news