Arnaud Balard: Why I designed a ‘Sign Union’ flag for Deaf people everywhere

Posted on July 3, 2015

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Hi to all readers,

I am Arnaud Balard, a French Deafblind artist. Yes, you read that right, Deafblind.

I have Usher, so I have tunnel vision, and use tactile signs, so I prefer the term ‘Deafblind’ to identify myself.

Each time I share this with others, I always get the same question. “How can you be a Deafblind artist?”

Watch Arnaud signing about his flag, with subtitles here:


It’s simple. I graduated from fine arts schools, and at that time I didn’t know that I would loose my vision. I worked with pens, and drew a lot.

Now I prefer digital art, which is easier for my eyes. And if, in the future, I become totally blind I will choose an other media to express myself. Simple as that.

Arnaud Balard

Arnaud Balard

I also studied graphism and publicity, so I learnt how to make a visual difference, create impact, and how to use it to change minds.

I am proud to be Deaf, and I am first of all DEAF.

I didn’t choose to become blind. It’s just life, and I have to deal with it.

I have always dreamt of a proud visibility of Deaf people.

We are often called “invisible”, but we are here. We are proud, and we cherish our signs languages all around the world.

But paradoxically we haven’t a clear visual identity to gather ourselves round.
We have a lot of Deaf logos in our respective countries, but nothing unique and international to show publicly our proud sign identities.

I always thought that we are people of the hands, not people of the eyes, because we can’t discriminate against people who are Deafblind.

Our hands are our way to be, so I felt that it’s time now to focus on that kind of symbol in a large public space.
And how to occupy the space was my most important question.

My biggest dream was to have a flag, as a lot of people identify themselves immediately with that particular strong symbol. Why a flag? Simply because when you see one, you can feel (or not) at home.

Arnaud's flag

Arnaud’s flag

When you see a flag, in a few seconds you know visually what that means, and who is there.

Finding a Deaf flag in the crowd, instantly you would know that there is another person like you who will accept who you are! You instantly know that you will find sign language, or at least someone who knows to communicate with you.

It’s a treasure we need to focus on. It’s time to have to a strong symbol. Time to say : I am, you are, and we will be together.

So I decided to engage myself on a Deaf flag project for our whole sign community.

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It took me 2 years to imagine the Sign Union flag (above). It was approved by the Deaf French National Federation in May 2014, and it will be discussed at the WFD assembly in July 2015.

The fundamental aim of having a flag is saying : with sign language WE ARE, WE CAN, and we WILL.

It’s time for us to choose an emblem, and be proud of our rich Deaf communities and show it to the world.

It’s time to mark our rich history for our Deaf children.

It’s time to focus and implement and develop our excellence.

Hands out, head on, and let’s go. It’s our time. Now.

If you want to learn more about his work, find Arnaud on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Surdism Instagram: @arnaudbalard and Twitter: @ArnaudBalard

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