Jeff Brattan-Wilson: Why you should come to the BDA’s 125th Birthday Congress in Torquay, 20-24 July 2016

Posted on July 1, 2016

The BDA is holding its 125th Birthday Congress in Torquay from 20-24 July 2016 and we would love it if you could join us.

As well as being a lovely chance to get away from it all, having a ‘staycation’ in the peak of the British summer on the English Riviera, it’s also a way to have fun, share stories and renew some long-lost friendships and honour our shared Deaf roots, the BDA way.

We’re very excited about a range of opportunities that exist for all of us in the Deaf world, and while there is a lot of doom and gloom around, we see a whole wealth of potential that we want to see become reality.
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We also want to celebrate our 125th Birthday by looking back on our many successes – one of the most memorable was when Jock Young was elected the first Deaf Chair of the BDA in 1983 in – you guessed it – Torquay, which is why we have chosen to come back – and for that reason the Congress is aptly named ‘Back to Our Future’.

This year, we have a new structure to our Congress, with engaging and motivating keynote speakers in the mornings – Sandra David and Dani Sive on Thursday, Dawn Marshall from ‘Becoming Visible’ on Friday, and Zoe McWhinney on Saturday.

All of these speakers are sure to generate a lot of discussion, debate and that will lead us into workshops on each of those days, all under the theme of ‘empowerment’. How do we make sure we get interpreters everywhere we need them, without fighting battle after battle?

What lessons can we learn from the successful BSL (Scotland) Act campaign? How does the Deaf Community deal with the disappearance of Deaf Clubs?

These issues are crucial topic in these days of uncertainty, but rather than shrinking within ourselves, the BDA is reaching out to all four corners of the UK to come and share in this positive space – so everyone in the community with the energy and desire to participate should come and learn more, and feel that shared passion for our community.

Now, more than ever, we need to ensure we have – and use – the tools to support the most vulnerable in our community, while also making sure that everyone with aspiration can achieve.

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All of this energy means that the afternoon sessions will be much more sedate – with opportunities to try a range of sports, and try out some lifestyle activities. Ever wanted to add pro touches to your social media videos? Come and find out how!

Our Deaf community is evolving. We have a wealth of experience through older generations, and we have a younger generation of Deaf people ready to be inspired.

Whether young or old, bring your families down to the English Riviera and spend some time with us. The final night of Congress is an 80’s themed ‘Back to our Future’ Gala Dinner Evening – fancy dress or formal attire welcome for that one.

Overall, we want you to join us in celebrating all that has been achieved over the last 125 years – some of which you may not have heard about until now.

And we want you to be the difference makers in the years to come – so let the journey begin. Don’t be at risk of missing out – we can’t guarantee a DeLorean and 1.21 gigawatts to get you there if you miss out, so the best way is to speak to Jeff Brattan-Wilson ( and get yourself to Torquay this summer!

Click BDA 125 Year Congress website: 30 different exhibitors (Sign Language Market) will be there!

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