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University of Bristol plans to let the Centre for Deaf Studies disappear!

by on June 24th, 2013

After 35 years of highly respected work, the leading international research centre for work with Deaf people in the University of Bristol is set to close down if the Faculty’s plans are adopted on 5th July at the University Council.

All staff have been given notice that their jobs are to go…by 31st July 2013.

Many staff had the ‘option’ to go voluntary or be sacked: some choice!  But some staff haven’t even been given that choice – they are simply going to be made redundant, with no options open to them.  This makes a mockery of the University claim that staff are ‘choosing’ to leave…. and that it’s all their fault….

Why are the University closing the Centre?

They decided to close the successful undergraduate programme – so no more sign language interpreters at Bristol, from 2013.

They decided to close the Masters programme because staff would not accept to go part-time and accept poorer conditions.

They say there is not enough income … but, of course, stop the courses and you stop the income!  The union and CDS staff have objected without success.

They did an internal review but CDS were not given any of the figures and were not allowed to take part or make presentation to the review.  CDS strongly oppose the review conclusions.

The Vice Chancellor announced to University Court in December 2012, that he did not want to close the Centre and offered a £100,000 subsidy.  But then they withdrew it  – no offer unless certain staff accept to be downgraded. …… so no money.

What people say:

Union convenor, James Annett, says “for such an important centre which promotes diversity in the University, it is vital that a proper independent review of the finances is conducted and the U-turn on the Vice Chancellor’s offer should be questioned”

Professor Alys Young of the Univeristy of Manchester said:

“Since its inception, the Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of Bristol has been transformational, both for the academic field and for the everyday lives of Deaf people.  Its research has driven major steps forward in the quality of life, well-being and citizenship rights of Deaf people in the UK and internationally.  It was a great privilege for me to do my PhD and post doctoral work there and that experience has had a profound influence on my values and my career”.

Dr Chris Stone of Gallaudet University in Washington, USA, adds

“The proposed closure of the CDS is devastating for the disciplines of both Deaf Studies and Sign Language Interpreting Studies. Having studied and worked at the CDS the academic team’s ability to nurture in-depth understanding of ‘being deaf’ in a non-deaf world is unparalleled in Europe and one of the foremost places to study globally.”

What can you do?

Tell people what is happening……

Write to the Vice Chancellor and to the Chair of the Council….. right away

Tell them:

1.     we want the subsidy the Vice Chancellor announced in December – honour the promise!

2.     we want an independent review of the finances

3.     we want a proper impact assessment – the decision affects the Deaf community and the hearing community

Please write now!

Professor Eric Thomas, Vice Chancellor, University of Bristol, Senate House, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TH, UK

by email: to his exec assistant:


Mr Denis Burn, Chair of Council, University of Bristol, Senate House, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TH, UK

by email:  also through  Clerk to Council:

You can refer to the Dean’s report/proposals which have been sent to the Council.

From → Campaign News

  1. Simon Hancock permalink

    Please contact me at BBC Radio Bristol on 01179746878 regarding this campaign. Thanks.

  2. John Walker permalink

    University of Bristol has been a leader in the research of Deaf people for 35 years. I have personally not attended the University but I have worked regularly with their members of staff and students. The strength of Deaf studies is a legacy of Prof. Jim Kyle and Prof. Bencie Woll – both of which are nearing retirement. The closure of Deaf studies will state that the legacy of this department lived and died with them. In the spirit of sustainability and continuing the legacy, can I ask University of Bristol to endeavour Deaf Studies research and teaching pursues, and they reinvest in the next generation of Deaf studies.

    John Walker
    Senior Research Fellow
    University of Brighton

  3. I am shocked and profoundly sad about the Centre for Deaf Studies’s closure.
    This Centre is the best one in the world and it made numerous deep researchings on Deaf people. Its reputation is excellent and unique over the world.

    I highly appreciate Dr Padd Laddy’s hard works in this center : I met him in some Deaf History International Conferences. His researches are very well-known in the world. Deafhood is a wonderful word for all deaf people in the world. Thanks to this term, Deaf people are proud of their lives and find more positive ways of life … You cannot break Padd’s wonderful dreams and his numerous years of researching. You cannot neither hurt all Centre for Deaf Studies staff working at high level and developing many projects for many years.

    With my best regards,

    Bernard le Maire, Gallaudet University, 1981
    Board member of Belgian French-speaking Federation for the Deaf
    Responsible for International affairs for the Belgian French-speaking Federation for the Deaf
    Deaf History International board member

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