Power in our Hands

27/10/2016 19:45.
Cert PG

additional-event-power-in-our-hands-oct-27thEVENT IN SUPPORT OF THE BRITISH DEAF ASSOCIATION (not included in your subscription)

Should we see deafness as a disability? Or is it better to regard being Deaf (with a capital D) and using British Sign Language as being a member of a community with its own vibrant culture? This film, produced by the British Deaf Association, strongly affirms the latter view. With rare archive footage and new interviews it shows the journey of the Deaf community through the 20th century, including its fight for civil rights and, above all, the right to be heard. Admission to this screening will be £4 for all and separately there will be a collection on behalf of the charity. (Cert PG)

Dir: Angela Spielsinger 75 mins UK 2016

Programme Notes

Power in Our Hands, released in 2016 to mark the 125th anniversary year of the foundation of the British Deaf Association (BDA), is aimed at a wide range of audiences, including social and political activists as well as Deaf people and their families. Combining social history and archive film with contemporary interviews, this documentary explores the secret history and heritage of the Deaf community in Britain. (See overleaf for some historical notes about the BDA)

At the heart of the Deaf world is British Sign Language (BSL), the first language of many Deaf people. The Deaf community does not see deafness as a disability. Instead it positions itself as a significant cultural and linguistic group with a rich and exciting history that stretches back hundreds of years – and with the word ‘Deaf’ (with a capitalised D) an expression of cultural identity.

Rather than focusing on medical definitions of hearing loss, Power in Our Hands presents Deaf people as an active and resilient community that has long campaigned for its language to be recognised. From social scenes of the 1930s, to the 2000 march supporting BSL recognition, this documentary gives us a glimpse of a Deaf culture that is mostly hidden from the hearing world.

Acknowledgements: Independent Cinema Office (ICO) http://www.independentcinemaoffice.org.uk

Director – Andrea Spielsinger
Producers – British Deaf Association, Independent Cinema Office
Editor – Kirsty Edwards
Sub-titles – Gemma Winning
Featuring – Wendy Daunt, Claire Denmark, John Haye MBE


Thank you for showing this film – it was such an insight into a world I know nothing about. What wonderfully expressive faces they all had!

This film should be (much) more widely shown

What a brilliant use of film and what an inspiring story! How did they dance in time? Is the only good copper a deaf copper?

Inspirational! Such a well-made narrative. Left us with a great deal to think about

An eye opener  I wish the BDA well!

The film used a cast iron structure to tell the story of the BDA over the years, with insightful contributions about the deaf community and fascinating archive footage

Very interesting – I’m surprised that BSL is not officially recognised

Interesting and informative up to a point. It seems to me BSL is restricted to the Deaf community and somewhat isolating (for them)

I fully welcome the development of the BDA as a powerful, articulate organisation paralleled by many trade unions and activists. However, BSL was foreign language to me. In the absence of starting (the film) with the BSL equivalents of Yes, No, Left, Right, Hearing, Deaf, etc., I found that BSL remained a foreign language – frustratingly so

This raised several questions – what a pity BSL isn’t like Esperanto and (so) could communicate across continents!

I now have a better understanding of the Deaf but I wonder about those who can hear whilst being unable to speak

Quite a lot lost in translation [subtitles?]. More explanation needed of some aspects of the Deaf culture. Nevertheless, very interesting

Good archival film.

Q: Have the sons of the late Princess Diana seen their mum’s fluent (signed) speech in Brighton?

Q: Is sign language recognised in all EU countries now, as well as Sweden?


A:12, B:6, C:3, D:1, E:0 to give 83% from 85% of those present.