Our Methodology

The DHC project runs through a series of participatory workshops and events that aim to generate a network of interested parties (Deaf community, Scotland’s cultural sector, and the academic). 

 

As method of the project, participatory workshops, especially in design, embeds the idea of collaboration. Moreover, as research instruments, over the last decadeworkshops have become site of collaboration and creative practice (Rosner, et al., 2016). Starting by bringing people around the same table it creates a temporary site field where the disruption of social roles, allows the construction of new practices, asking participant to make: to play, moving away by the notion of “knowing” toward the notion of “doing” (Rosner, et al., 2016). 

 

Collaboration is at the base of this process. This is why the collective run through collaborative workshops and participatory activity. 

Participatory probe Kits

The arts are becoming increasingly integrated in applied linguistics research as scholarly attention turns towards dynamic multilingualism, multimodality and superdiversity (Adami 2017; Blackledge and Creese 2017) and co-production (McKay and Bradley 2016). This paper reflects upon a collaborative project led by Edinburgh Napier University’s Critical Design team and Heriot-Watt University’s Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies. The two-year national project aimed

to creatively advance discussion around Scotland’s British Sign Language National Plan 2017-2023.

 

We consider the challenges of an interlingual and intermodal project and the role of expressive models, bingo, building blocks, and cardboard props in generating new ways of thinking about the relationship between BSL and public life. Provocative objects such as model museums and life-size cardboard figures acted as ‘boundary objects’ (Wenger 2000) that revealed hidden, oppressed, and contradictory relations. In so doing, design methods elicited ‘mutually transformative’ (Back 2012) narratives in a playful and open-ended format. We argue that these methods represent new ways of showing and telling that encourages playful intersubjective engagement, empathetic interpretation, and uncertainty as positive values.

 

Our use of design probes can useful be understood as ‘Boundary Objects’ as conceptualized by Wenger (2000). ‘‘Boundary Objects’ can take the form of artefacts, discourses and processes that play an integral role in helping participants manage and leverage boundaries of knowledge and experience.  These objects not only disrupt conventional categories, but also afford the participant-designer the power to enact change, displacing dominant forms of knowledge with local and experiential narratives. Throughout the four workshops creative activities created scenarios with props and Design Fictions that aimed to embed collaboration in the development of a nascent Deaf Heritage Network.

 

 

Workshop 1

During the first workshop the participative activities were designed to provoke conversation around what Deaf Heritage is and where it might be located. 

 

 

Deaf Heritage Bingo 

 

The first activity was a game of Bingo, chosen because the game is popular amongst Scotland’s deaf communities (with regional competitions featuring in deaf clubs across the country).  The Bingo card was designed to be completed by each mixed language table – who first had to discuss and agree what Deaf Heritage means and complete the card.

Definitions ranged from conventional terms such as culture, storytelling, tourism and history to terms we would more readily associate with difficult heritage, namely oppression, freedom, oralism, identity, equality and rights.

 

 

 

 

 

The Museum of Deafness

 

The second activity took the form of a probe that was a scale model of an intersection of a typical museum space.  A museum probe kit was given to each mixed language table and the brief asked each table

 

 
WHAT WILL THE FUTURE MUSEUM
OF DEAF CULTURE LOOK LIKE?
 
WHAT WILL IT SHOW
AND HOW WILL IT BE CURATED?

 

 

Facilitated by interperters and through writing and sketching, the roundtable discussions that followed were intense and revealed divisions in how Deaf heritage should be represented in public spaces. The process of collaboratively making the model created discussion around a number of points; for example, the importance of telling the story of oralist schools and expressing the lived experience of oppression through an aesthetic that captured the relations of power and subordination.  Other models went further still, renouncing the capacity of a conventional museum to do justice to the marginalised status of Deaf culture.

Workshop 2

Our 2ndworkshop provided an opportunity to develop an activity that responded to the concept of BSL infrastructure, a way of thinking about the linguistic structure and networks necessary to create a more linguistically equal cultural sector.

 

Building BSL Infrastructure

 

We devised a BSL Infrastructure probe kit that was comprised of children’s’ wooden bricks and a dynamo, paper, sellotape and scissors. 

 

As already mentioned, narratives are an integral part of the relations between people and things and they have a speculative potential within design research to tell the story of possible futures. In the case of the BSL Infrastructure probe participants collaborated to consider levels of priorityas well as how elements of a proposed infrastructure might be related through processes and geographies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mapping Change

 

Taking the conversation on BSL infrastructure and the needs of it in relation to the specific time and space, we invited participants to draw a line reflecting on where are we now in relation to the last 10 years of BSL Bill developments, what has changed and what has not and imagining future possibilities of change. Our second activity was so called: mapping change. 

This kind of activity and reflection can be situated in the broader context of speculative design and as much as they have a future making means, they also are meaningful pieces of date, the portrait of a specific time. As time capsules those maps can be something to look at in the future to analyse again a change: there cannot be change if we do not know where we came from.  

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Workshop 2

In our most recent workshop we developed the theme of infrastructure further by asking participants to consider the infrastructure as embodied by individuals with roles, responsibilities, lifestyle and daily rhythms.

 

Whoese Job?

 

 

The need for BSL Infrastructure is evident in both the ambitions of the Scottish Government and in the current inequality of cultural resources and opportunities.  If Scotland’s cultural sector had a BSL Infrastructure how would it work and WHO would be responsible for it?  Who should ensure that Deaf culture, BSL language and creative development are embedded within organisations rather than tagged on at the point of purchase?

 

Meet your new participant. She’s ambitious and keen to impress.  She just needs some direction!  Each table will create the job that is needed in cultural organisations to ensure equality and creative opportunity (not just access).  Use drawings, diagrams or text to bring her to life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collaborative Budjeting

 

Taking the conversation on BSL infrastructure and the needs of it in relation to the specific time and space, we invited participants to draw a line reflecting on where are we now in relation to the last 10 years of BSL Bill developments, what has changed and what has not and imagining future possibilities of change.

 

Our second activity was so called: mapping change. 

This kind of activity and reflection can be situated in the broader context of speculative design and as much as they have a future making means, they also are meaningful pieces of date, the portrait of a specific time. As time capsules those maps can be something to look at in the future to analyse again a change: there cannot be change if we do not know where we came from.  

© 2018 Deaf Heritage Collective. RSE funded Project - Edinburgh Napier University 

10 Colinton Rd, Edinburgh EH10 5DT

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