Scotland's Year of Stories Project: Preserving and Celebrating Edinburgh's Deaf Heritage

Deaf Action exists to support the diversity of deaf people, including deaf users of British Sign Language (BSL), and those who are deafened, deafblind or hard of hearing. Their work is geared towards empowering all deaf people to achieve their potential and fully participate in society, with equality of rights, access and opportunity. Deaf Action have the last remaining deaf centre in Scotland at Albany Street in Edinburgh, and this project aimed to capture stories from the Deaf Community to connect the audience with the legacy and history of the historic centre, revealing narratives of the place through people's stories. The result was a project that promoted the historical significance of the Albany Street building in a format that was accessible to both deaf and hearing people.

From the childhood memories of older members to the vision for the future shared by young people, capturing and recording these narratives created a rich digital archive of stories from the community of Albany Street. The stories were first showcased during the Deaf Festival in August 2022 through an exhibition that allowed the audience to experience the recordings via different media: as screening, or via individual QR codes scattered around the storytellers' “portraits” as well as display materials. The exhibition featured various objects from the participants, such as old pictures, memories or fictional artefacts: emphasis was also placed on capturing photo portraits of the people who shared their memories.

The stories were presented in the native language and “heritage idiom” of the community, British Sign Language (BSL), thus contributing to an archive of underrepresented and endangered form of communication.

This event was supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund was delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.

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Ⓒ Deaf Action

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