As well as the two novels and anthology that will be shared in the first collection, you will be invited to hear podcasts, read articles, watch videos and access more exclusive content in the online members’ platform. Part of this content will open you up to more talented creatives such as artists and musicians, and other commentators who will discuss topics sparked by the book’s collection.
So to help grow your mind and increase your D/deaf awareness, we’ve pulled together some important statistics, facts and issues that affect the D/deaf Community.
About 900,000 people in the UK are severely or profoundly deaf, and 1 in 6 of the adult population (approximately 11 million) is affected by hearing loss – 8 million of these are aged 60 and over. And this is, for us, one of the strangest things. The Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) cited a study suggesting that age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss among adults aged 20-69, with the greatest amount of hearing loss in the 60 to 69 age group. Even just on a selfish level (because many of us will eventually suffer hearing loss), we find it odd and we’re quite staggered that D/deaf awareness is still too low a priority for most people.
The British Deaf Association estimates, in the UK, that 151,000 people use British Sign Language (BSL), and of those, 87,000 are Deaf.
The CSD reports that one million Deaf people use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary language. Additionally, 300 distinct sign languages exist in the world, but 98% of Deaf people do not receive education in sign language, and unfortunately almost three-quarters (72%) of families do not sign with their Deaf children. The British Deaf Association found similar statistics in the UK where 9 in every ten deaf children are born to hearing parents, but only 1 in 10 of those parents will learn sign language to be able to communicate fully with their child.
BSL is it’s own language, it is not merely spoken or written English with hand signs. It is a different language with its own grammar and sentence construction. For example, you would write in English “what is your name?”, but a BSL user would sign, “your name, what?”
A 2016 survey by totaljobs in partnership with SignHealth, Scottish Council on Deafness (now called deafScotland), British Deaf Association and Action on Hearing Loss found discrimination plays a large part in the working lives of people from the D/deaf community. The most striking finding was that 56% of the survey respondents said they had experienced discrimination in the workplace due to being deaf or hard of hearing. Of this group, 62% said this was from colleagues; just over half (53%) said it was from management; and 37% experienced discrimination during a job interview.
Gary Cottrell of SignHealth commented that the survey revealed the “significant barriers deaf people face both in the workplace and when trying to find employment” and that “employers have much to gain from the considerable talents and abilities of deaf people.” Whilst Janis McDonald from deafScotland called for employers to ” to improve their deaf awareness to ensure they fully consider reasonable adjustments and take fairer action that creates an inclusive and productive workplace for all employees.”
Corroborating the survey, is Hearing Link that states at least 4.4 million people with hearing loss are of working age. But. The employment rate for those with hearing loss is 65%, compared to 79% of people with no long-term health issue or disability. And on average, people with hearing loss are paid £2,000 less per year than the general population; this amounts to £4 billion per year in lost income across the UK.
If there are barriers with conventional employment, which is regulated by laws such as the Equalities Act 2010 and policies such as Access to Work, then imagine how difficult it must be to make a breakthrough as a writer where no such protections exist.
And sadly, the CSD reports that 1 in 4 Deaf women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, compared to 1 in 10 hearing women.
So the above gives you a primer on the D/deaf Community and the issues that they might face. But it is important to say that the stories we will be sharing are not defined by being D/deaf. They are stories that you’ll be familiar with, things that perhaps we might all experience – just told from a different perspective, and we hope they inspire you and will help change the way you see the world.
We’re going to sign off with D/deaf and LGBTQI+ advocate Jessica Kellgren-Fozard, in all her vintage fabulousness, explaining what, in her mind, is the difference between deaf and Hard of Hearing.