Letter to UoB from Bob Duncan (Writer, Producer, Director)
Dear Professor Thomas, Members of the Senate and Council
Deaf Studies at Bristol University
I am one of over a thousand people from all over the world who, in less than 48 hours, have signed the online petition asking you not to do irreparable damage to the Centre for Deaf Studies. As Dr Christopher Stone says in his comment on the petition, the Centre is, quite simply, unequalled in Europe. How many departments in any British university could justify such an accolade? It should be cherished and nurtured, not threatened with cuts.
It may be difficult for those of you who do not know much about the Deaf world to understand how vital the work of the CDS has been to the advancement of human rights for Deaf people in Britain and elsewhere. To see it cut back now, when Deaf people are still so far short of achieving equality in our society, would be a sickening body blow. It would be as if a university that had pioneered South African Studies had then gone on to make cuts thirty years ago, when Black people in South Africa were still struggling to free themselves from apartheid.
Since 1984, when I began producing Listening Eye and other programmes for Deaf people on Channel 4, the CDS has been a beacon to which I and colleagues have looked for illumination and understanding. To name only two of the many towering achievements that have inspired me and many others, Dr Paddy Ladd’s explorations of Deafhood and the ‘Looking On’ report by Young, Kyle and Ackerman are quite unrivalled. The latter is still the work I recommend to anybody who wishes to understand what is essential to the creation of a fair and equal bilingual workplace for Deaf and hearing people.
Paddy Ladd’s ‘Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood’ is not only the definitive but the defining work on this subject, the theory of which Paddy developed at Bristol. The MSc in Deafhood Studies which builds on this work could only have happened at Bristol. To have given birth to the discipline of Deaf Studies, and now to be the world leader in Deafhood Studies, should be a matter of unbelievable pride to your university. Along with thousands of others around the world, I appeal to you to do nothing that could damage the growth of Deaf Studies. If it does not flourish at Bristol, then where in the world can the Deaf community look?