Deaf Mosaic Exhibition First of Its Kind To Showcase Deaf Achievements

Deaf Mosaic, the first major exhibition of its kind by a deaf photographer, has showcased deaf people’s achievements in all walks of life and celebrated Britain’s deaf community.

It was on display at the London’s OXO Gallery last week, supported by the National Deaf Children’s Society.

The exhibition was the brainchild of deaf photographer Stephen Iliffe, and features portraits and brief biographies of deaf people in all walks of life, including artists, musicians – such as Dame Evelyn Glennie – a nurse, a politician, an asylum seeker, a model and a female rugby player.

It was devised to celebrate the astonishingly diverse mosaic of ethnicity, class, religion, sexual orientation and different ways of life that make up the deaf community.

The show was supported by the National Deaf Children’s Society, and the charity’s CEO, Susan Daniels OBE, attended the private view of Deaf Mosaic on Friday 17 March, alongside many of the people in the photographs.

Stephen hopes his exhibition will serve not only to showcase deaf culture, but also to “challenge schools, colleges, universities, employers to see how just minor adaptations – like providing communication support or technical aids – can make a huge difference.”

In a recent survey, the National Deaf Children’s Society found that almost half of the public don’t think deaf people can work as doctors, nurses or teachers, and almost two thirds thought they couldn’t be police officers.

In response, the charity said that schools and colleges have a huge role to play in providing deaf young people with bespoke careers advice that makes them aware of the many career choices available.

The exhibition’s creator, deaf photographer Stephen Iliffe, said:

I grew up feeling as if I was the only deaf kid in the world, and was left to feel there were all kinds of jobs that I’d never be able to do.

While at university studying photography, I chanced across other deaf people. I began to understand that it is not deafness itself that disables people, but the barriers in society that stop us from achieving our dreams.

By taking photographs to tell the stories of people who have highly-skilled and demanding jobs, I want to inspire every deaf child to feel they too can fulfil their ambitions.

And I want schools, colleges, universities and employers to realise that simple, minor adaptations can make a huge difference.

Susan Daniels OBE, Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, which is supporting Deaf Mosaic, said:

With the creation of this exhibition – the first of its kind – Stephen has proved himself to be a trailblazer for the deaf community. His pictures vividly demonstrate and celebrate the wonderful diversity of deaf society and culture.

We know that there’s a widespread misconception that some jobs are simply off limits to deaf people. The danger is that some deaf young people might actually believe these misconceptions and abandon their dreams as a result. That would be a tragedy. That’s why exhibitions like this are so vital for deaf children and young people, because they help debunk those myths.

Deaf Mosaic is proof positive that, with the right support, deaf people can do any job they set their minds to.

Deaf artist Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq, who featured in one of the photographs, said:

What a fantastic opportunity to be part of Stephen’s collection! This exhibition shows that there are deaf people working on an equal level to their hearing peers. We still have a long way to go but this is a great step towards positivity.

I hope this exhibition gives hearing people an understanding that achievements are possible if we have equal integration and continue to demand a good enough standard of education for deaf people, so they can meet their full potential.

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