This month I was lucky enough to get invited to Clin d’Oeil in Reims, which I’m sure you all know, is a huge deaf arts festival.
I’d heard a lot of good things about it but I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been to a few deaf festivals now and they’re all different, but this one was definitely the largest. So to make it easier for anyone who’s thinking about going next time, I’ve jotted down some handy tips on how to navigate your time there.
- First things first, from my point of view Clin d’Oeil is a Deaf arts festival, with a capital “D”. It’s VERY cultural and by this I mean it’s a festival that is exclusively aimed at a specific type of deaf person. While that may be appealing for some, it can be a very daunting experience for others who are HoH, from a hearing background or just very new to all things deaf. So, brace yourself!
- You NEED to know at least some international sign language (ISL). With visitors from all over the world, that might seem like an obvious point. But like I said, I’ve been to other global deaf festivals and I’ve managed to get by with BSL, lip reading and the help of some very lovely people. Not in Reims though. Perhaps it’s the sheer scale of the festival that makes it hard to provide access for all but I wasn’t the only Brit who found themselves struggling to understand the performances and conversations.
- This next one kind of ties in with the first two and is a bit of a personal gripe of mine. None of the live talks or performances were captioned. Not even in French. Two of the other festivals I’ve attended have had captions and they’ve been a God send to people like me. I could finally join in with everyone else. Even in Taiwan, where the live captions were in Chinese, it was still very comforting to know that they’d made the effort to include the deafies that can’t sign.
- Prepare to execute some military precision planning! As soon as you get the programme, make a note of what you want to see and then what your ticket will allow you to see at what time. There is SO much going on. Free events and ticketed. Some might clash on timings but if you’re lucky they might be repeated the next day. You should also probably turn up 5 mins early, as we couldn’t see a performances that we arrived on time for because it was full and the doors had shut. In fact, you might want to hire a P.A. If you’re dead set on seeing everything.
- Pack clothing for ALL types of weather. We had a mix of 30 degree heat, lighting storms and torrential rain over the course of four days.
- See the city! Don’t forget to have a mooch around Reims, as it’s a beautiful location. Main highlights for me were the cathedral (go inside during the day and watch the light projection show at night!) and also the Ronron cat cafe (which I didn’t get to go into as it’s only open four days a week, but cats, yay!).
- And finally, don’t be put off if you are HoH and want to go. You should attend. You deserve to be included too and sometimes we need to remind people that variety is the spice of life!
Here’s a video round up of my time there, complete with questionable BSL!
Read more of Teresa’s posts (with cartoons!) by clicking here.
Teresa is a freelance film maker, photographer and full time cynic. At school, she was voted “Most likely to end up in a lunatic asylum”, a fate which has thus far been avoided. Her pet hates are telephones, intercoms and all living things. Follow her on Twitter as @TGarratty
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