Deaf EXperience

DEX Projects

MY DEAF STORY 2015-2017

The DEX Deaf Youth Council (DDYC) began as a Focus Group in 2014 with funding from the Department for Schools and Education, which commissioned DEX to find out from deaf young BSL users what they thought of their education, and to comment on the Children and Families Act 2014. DEX was awarded Heritage Lottery Funding to develop the new group and support the members in the understanding of their heritage and with the beginnings of deaf identity development.

The project took in a trip to London as Rachel Reeves, Leeds MP, arranged for a tour of the Houses of Commons and Lords; and to the British Deaf history Museum in Warrington, followed by Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds to handle original hearing aids and audiological equipment. John Hay, Deaf historian, outlined international deaf education history, and Wayne Richards, a local deaf historian, explained local Deaf schools.

For an introduction to Deaf culture there was a trip to Wolverhampton for the Deaffest film festival, and to ‘Power in our hands’ film in Bradford Media Museum.

To showcase their knowledge, the DDYC members asked Charlie Swinbourne, deaf TV playwriter to support with the script for their My Deaf Story play, followed by Mickey Fellowes and Frank Essary, deaf directors and producers to develop the story and their acting skills. Terry Harton, deaf actor supported too. Eventually, their period costumes were chosen and the rehearsals went ahead with enthusiasm and some trepidation.

On Saturday 19th November 2017 at the Mechanics Theatre, Wakefield, a total of 130 in the audience to watch the My Deaf Story play and a Brand New John Smith Deaf Comedy Show

Zebra Uno, deaf film makers, filmed the play and DVDs have been produced with subtitles with a master DVD to give to the DDYC members involved. Georgina Brown, deaf photographer, recorded the project voluntarily. There were many favourable comments made regarding the My Deaf Story play, thanks to all involved in this tremendous team work.

There was a Celebratory party to follow.

Finally there was Smartphone/Local Offer filming workshops led by Giles Bowman, deaf film-maker, during the final stage of the My Deaf Story project. The DDYC produced their story boards for the information films they wanted to be distributed. They were put on West Yorkshire councils’ Local Offer web sites to inform parents of deaf children about deaf education and bilingualism and to enlighten young deaf people that it is fine to be deaf.



We received funding to put on an ASDAN accredited Citizenship course for one year all delivered in BSL; DDYC members were free to opt out from the final assessments. Here are just some of the issues the DDYC learnt:

Modifying the modules on we arranged a series of workshops which included Law and Order where West Yorkshire Police talked about the role of community police and constables.

For Rights and Responsibilities Amnesty was represented by a highly experienced volunteer from Leeds branch who explained about international rights and exploitation.

There was a weekend trip to London which covered the Finance module with a visit to the Bank of England and Law and Order module with a visit to the Supreme Court.

Whilst in London Deafinitely Theatre ran a special workshop, and at Hampton Court there was a Deaf BSL Guide, John Wilson.

Trips to the Recycling Centre at Wakefield covered the Volunteering module, followed by a trip to the coast to beach clean.

For the International Rights module, Helga Stevens, Deaf MEP, was interviewed by the DDYC via internet from Brussels.

A total of 10 DDYC members opted to take their final assessments in BSL, and 8 passed.



The NHS funded this project, with the aim of good mental and physical health and for the group to become more independent by learning project management. Zara Emery and Sohaib Khan, two DDYC members, were voted to become paid part-time Project Coordinators.

There was a healthy cookery workshop, one on mental health and another on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. In addition there was a successful street art project which resulted in a mural which showed what the DDYC thought about being deaf, facilitated by deaf artist, Oliver Jamin.

Other workshops were held on understanding how projects work and how the members should be involved in facilitating their own activities. Following programme planning, work began on filming a deaf awareness video using their learning from other projects on developing the story board and production, and the first takes were done, as the Covid pandemic began.


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