Radio programme about deafness – (not) accessible!

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UPDATE (3.15pm)

Well, turns out it wasn’t accessible at the same time as broadcast on the radio after all. Signed version and a transcript will follow “later”. I’ve cancelled the warm fuzzy thoughts. Not quite sure I understand the point of trumpeting something as accessible if deaf people can’t access it at the same time as everyone else. A real missed opportunity and rather just highlights how deaf young people and adults are treated as second-class citizens by our media.

Maybe I’ll ask the TV licensing people if they mind if I pay my licence fee “later”…

Original blog (9.40am):

Word reaches me that BBC Radio 4 will be showing a programme about deafness this afternoon THAT WILL BE ACCESSIBLE TO DEAF PEOPLE. How modern!

Apparently, signed interpretation and a transcript will be on the web at the same time as broadcast on the radio. If true, it will be fantastic and make a really refreshing change. I’ll be tuning it and hoping it’s a good one. But in the meantime, warm fuzzy thoughts to the BBC today.

Let us know what you think of the programme. Below is some more info about it:

A Small Piece of Silence

Today, 14:15 on BBC Radio 4


A Small Piece of Silence by Katie Hims

A Small Piece of Silence started out in a very different way to most radio plays. After David Bower’s striking performance as Quasimodo in Radio Four’s production of The Hunchback of Notredame, the producer Susan Roberts suggested a contemporary play be written specially for him. After many initial conversations with David who plays the lead character Joe in the play, Katie Hims’ story began to emerge.

In A Small Piece of Silence, Joe who has been Deaf since he was born , works in an ordinary council office . Every day he makes the same journey to work on the bus, seeing the same people . Then one day a young girl signs her name to him. A_N_G_E_L.

Joe has been working in the council’s housing office for 17 years. Apart from one small promotion he has remained in the same job surrounded by the same people . Vernon has been there for the same amount of time. He eats Joe’s food and talks too fast in the pub ..but Joe goes along with it.

Into their world comes new office recruit Shelly who begins to fall for Joe. Until Joe realises that she is having a relationship with Richard Humble , the leader of the council

At the end of Shelly’s first week there is a huge fire in a nearby block of flats. Joe learns that Angel was one of the people who has died.

And so Joe’s life is changed forever as he embarks on a quest, turning detective to find out what has happened.

A Small Piece of Silence is a love story, detective story but, using sound, it attempts to give us a picture of the world of someone who can’t hear. It examines the issues around how society deals with Deafness through the character of Joe.

Joe ….. David Bower
Shelly ….. Maxine Peake
Vernon ….. Ralph Ineson
Brigitta ….. Deborah McAndrew
Marion ….. Ruth Alexander-Rubin
Richard/ Bus Driver ….. Terence Mann

Music composed and performed by Liran Donin

Artistic consultant Isolte Avila. Developed in partnership with Signdance Collective.

Directed in Manchester by Susan Roberts.

Liran Donin provides specially composed music and a soundscape that illustrates Joe’s view of the world. Joe suffers from Tinitus. Liran, underscores this condition in sound.

David Bower is one of the creative directors of Signdance Collective , an international dance music theatre company lead by Deaf and physically disabled dance theatre artists working alongside composer musicians.

Katie Hims’ first radio play, ‘The Earthquake Girl’, won a Richard Imison Award in 1998, and since then her work has never failed to make an impression. In Katie’s world there is a semblance of normality but underneath all that you can be sure is that something strange — and rather magical — is going on. Her most recent work for radio includes 43.59: 45′ original play and FIVE WEDDING DRESSES: 5 x 15′ BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour.


3 thoughts on “Radio programme about deafness – (not) accessible!

  1. The technical problems with the programme were general, affecting all programmes on the site ,and unrelated to the BBC’s real wish to broadcast the signed version at the same time as the audio broadcast . It was unfortunate that it happened this afternoon , but we can assure you that the BBC was/is exceptional in both its attitude to working with us and with its proffesionalism towards ACCESS and INCLUSION .
    I sincerely hope that you will catch the signed & scripted/subtitled version , as it is running longer than actually schduled because of the technical problems .

    Thankyou , Yours Faithfully ,

    David Bower (Artistic director SDC & … Jo) and Isolte Avila @ SignDanceCollective

    • Thanks for letting us know about the technical problems. A real shame, as you say, but good to hear of your positive experience working with the BBC.

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