Power in Our Hands

Chapter Art Centre promotes deaf rights and sign language with Power in Our Hands, a soundless film.

Power in Our Hands, untold story of British Deaf Committee
Power in Our Hands, untold story of British Deaf Committee

A soundless film will be shown at the Chapter Art Center from March 4, to explore the lives of Deaf people in the UK in honor of the 125th anniversary year of the British Deaf Association (BDA).

The movie uses sign language and subtitles which makes it accessible to everyone. It combines archive footage and contemporary interviews to show the journey of British Sign Language (BSL) and Deaf rights.

For Jemma Buckley, the film’s project manager, “The important thing highlighted during the film is that British Sign Language can’t be recorded in any other way than film. It can’t be fully captured when written down or photographed – so this is the only way the sign language can be preserved for future generations.” The documentary will give people a rare glimpse into deaf culture.

Claire Vaughan, Chapter’s Programme Officer, believes that it is important that Cardiff people come and experience the film. “The Power of our Hands is essential for anyone with an interest in civil liberties and the journey in the 20th century which has seen the recognition of basic human rights,” says Vaughan who believes the film is for everyone.

“It shows the life that we take for granted has been fought for over the past 50 years by the deaf community with gatherings at the annual Congress meetings. The movie offers a chance to find out about inspiring activists that we may not have known about otherwise,” adds Vaughan.

Rather than focusing on medical definitions of hearing loss, Power in Our Hands presents deaf people as an active community that has long campaigned for their language to be recognized.

However, British Sign Language still faces many problems which are shown in the movie.

James Barnes Miller from the British Death Association says the film highlights the shortage of qualified British Sign Language interpreters.

“It’s a problem. Deaf people can be left with either no or inadequate communication support in a wide-range of statutory services, such as education, health services. This means deaf people are more at risk from issues such as health problems and falling behind in education,” says Miller.

The statics from the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) prove that it is quite common for deaf people to leave schools without qualifications because of lack of interpreters leading to them to fall behind at schools.

In the Sick of It report, only 1% of 900 health-related videos are translated into sign language.

To tackle these problems, deaf communities in Cardiff should be regularly consulted in all of the decision that affect them, and be able to access all information regarding BSL.

“Deaf people are not regularly consulted about the decisions that affect them, as often due to the access to information barriers, they are often unaware of the decisions that affect them,” says Miller who recommends watching Power in Our Hands, at Chapter Arts Centre.

A panel on the film will be hosted by British Deaf Association and a BSL interpreter on March 8 at Cardiff’s Chapter Art Centre. Through this movie the BDA wants to show that soundless movies are not silent.

Check out the Letterboxd’s review of the movie here.

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