This new & exciting project will be led by Lucy Dunkerley, Eloise Garland & Ruth Montgomery and will bring together Deaf and Hearing communities, creating better opportunities for young people and emerging professionals in the creative industries. Four local areas with active Deaf communities, strategically placed from London to the West of England has been identified. In each location, Decibels will develop and deliver a series of accessible music-based workshops for children, inspiring community engagement and exposing young Deaf people to real-life role models. Deaf and hearing practitioners will learn skills from each other, develop their practice to make it more accessible. By working together, new methodologies will be created resulting in a toolkit to share the practice developed.

The project will work towards a Conference in Wells Cathedral in Somerset where we will share the results with industry leaders and the wider community. The event will include facilitated dialogue between young people, emerging deaf professionals, and hearing professionals, allowing us to push for more mainstream inclusion of Deaf young people, set higher standards of creative work from the grassroots up, and establish and promote best practice on a national level. Bringing people together in a fully accessible forum will also help reduce isolation and build stronger communities. Our outreach and publicity strategies will ensure good attendance at workshops and the final event.

Decibels outreach strategy will bring together Deaf and hearing people living and working side by side but rarely meeting and collaborating due to communication issues. We will help foster better relationships with local organisations and professionals within the creative industries, raise awareness and understanding, and develop opportunities to learn, create and celebrate together.
We will support Deaf children in the early stages of education, in bespoke workshops designed specifically to target their needs. This will help raise their self-esteem, improve language, listening and social skills, as well as developing expression, creativity and communication. This will consequently aid development of skills crucial for accessing the mainstream world.

This project will also nurture emerging Deaf professionals in early stage of their careers; by using our national platform to create employment opportunities through partnership work, we will provide a gateway into industries that are traditionally harder for Deaf people to access.
Decibels was approached by parents and deaf practitioners through their frustration in the gap of creative, consistent provision for deaf children. A steering committee of stakeholders including parents of Deaf children, emerging Deaf professionals, key Music staff from Wells Cathedral School, Deaf/Hearing teachers experienced in working in schools for the Deaf (such as Frank Barnes and Mary Hare) and other industry leaders will be involved.

The Decibels committee has met with key organisations including Audiovisability, National Deaf Children’s Society, Deaf schools, and local Deaf clubs. We have noted that Deaf children are often isolated from mainstream activities due to insufficient access. There is a chronic shortage of both Deaf and hearing professionals trained in British Sign Language and Deaf Awareness within the creative industries, meaning Deaf children and their families find it hard to access quality provision. Deaf children are missing out on the opportunity to learn valuable skills, thus having a continuous knock-on effect into the future. There is an urgent need to address this problem. Through this consultation process, we have identified Deaf and hearing professionals, with a track record of excellent practice, and community report to help design and lead this project with continuous consultation with both communities.