CBC TV recently did a piece about two Deaf photographers. These photographers, along with a few other Deaf photographers, have been struggling to secure funds to cover the cost for interpreter services so they could continue their study of photography. CTV came to film at a Town Hall the day the funding issue was raised and is planning a followup piece on the Deaf photographers. Both networks are hungry for more stories from the Deaf world.
We are currently looking to secure funds for interpreting services for the Deaf photographers to allow them to continue their studies at PrairieView School of Photography.
More than five years ago, Deaf photographer Vanecia applied for a course at PrairieView School of Photography but she could not cover the fees for interpreting services which were over $4,000 for an eight-week course. As a group, we felt it was not our responsibility to pay for interpreting fees just as it is not the responsibility of a person in a wheelchair to cover the cost of a ramp to enter their building. PrairieView needs to give students access to their courses offered. When Vanecia initially contacted PrairieView, she was denied access. She then applied for grant monies to cover the cost of interpreters. After many years of work, funds from Employment Manitoba became available for interpreting services with a one time only grant for one course.
Although this was a step in the right direction, we are now faced with the daunting task of starting over with our search for funds to continue with our studies, the same opportunity so easily offered to any other individual in Manitoba. Where does that leave our skill development? And where does that leave the knowledge we just attained? How can we continue to develop our skills if we are not allowed to continue our studies or put them on hold indefinitely? The goal of our group is to have access to the remaining 16 courses at PrairieView to complete the program.
Deaf artists share our artistic experiences, work and knowledge easily with each other as ASL is our shared language. This is not the case when we are interacting in a non-deaf world without ASL. Because of this, an interpreter is an essential part of our lives, offering us access to the world around us. When an interpreter is unavailable to a Deaf individual in educational situations like an art class, access is simply not there. Without this basic human right to communication, a Deaf person is not given the same opportunity to develop skills as non-Deaf people. How can a Deaf individual learn anything new when they have no access to the knowledge being offered them?
Mime opens up a forum for the Deaf to tell their astonishing and heartbreaking stories, providing an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to the hearing world that, for the most part, knows nothing of their lives and struggles. This provides a perfect storm of rich life experience to feed the voracious appetite of the muse and a completely untapped and unexplored market to showcase their art practice.
With the most generous support of the Manitoba Arts Council (and the Winnipeg Foundation and Deaf Centre Manitoba), this project was able to:
The Deaf Mime Troupe chose to call themselves 100 Decibels: A Deaf Mime Troupe.