The Importance of Deaf Museums

English transcript

I'm Hatice @hatcesiyahi and I sign using #DeafMuseums today. By comparing past and present, I sign whether everything has stayed the same or not. A couple of examples:

In the past, when deaf women were pregnant and then gave birth to a baby, it was very different from hearing pregnant women. How could deaf people take care of their child and cook for example ?! You couldn't hear when the baby was crying. But you have come up with a clever solution. It used to be that you tied a long string to your wrist and noticed when the baby was moving. Today, of course, you use a baby monitor with a light signal. This means that when the baby is crying, lights turn on automatically and then you know that the child is crying.

As a second example, I would like to use the SMS to sign: That didn't exist in the past. In the past you had to write letters and then send them and that took forever. Two, three days ... unimaginably long. Nowadays everyone is texting. It used to be unusual, today it is very modern. That is why it is important that things are saved for the future, so that you know what was there in the past and that it is completely different now. There used to be no interpreters either, but now there are. And it's nice that the deaf are now visible and present.

English transcript

Helala: I just remembered - in the past, things were not the same as today. No way! There used to be lots of discrimination against Deaf people. "You're not allowed to do this or that, you should speak, come on, get a move on ...". It was really tough. But today, lots of things have changed. I need help to remember what though ... Amina!

Amina: There are interpreters that sign so that I can understand everything without problems. That's really cool that they are here. I also find it pretty cool that there are hearing people who are interested in Sign Language and want to learn it.

Helala: I know lots of hearing people with good hearts who want to support Deaf people, like interpreters. I am always pleased when language is visual. It makes communication fun and is very positive for me. But don't forget the museums - it is important that they have visual displays of how things used to be and how they have developed.

English transcript

Hello my name is Corrie Tijselling and I’m from the Netherlands.

I hold a PhD in philosophy history and education with a focus on deaf education. Your project on deaf museums is fantastic, I love it. It’s also very important for the deaf community, many deaf people don’t know their history, the deaf youth of today don’t know their history. Most of their parents are hearing and so their history isn’t passed on to them from their parents. Furthermore many deaf people think history is just about naming which deaf person was born when and pointing out where deaf schools were established.

There’s much more to history than that. History is interesting! History is related to politics, it’s linked to anthropology, sociology, social networks, how people work who holds the power and who is disempowered and about the emancipation of deaf people . Unfortunately we don’t have books written on our deaf history so we need to take this on and do the research on who the important people in our history were, when did these things happen and most importantly why? Why is one of the most important questions research.

I hope that through your project Deaf Museums, the deaf youth of today will be inspired and want to delve into their histories as well!

English transcript

Johan Wesemann was the director of the EUD from 1990 to 2000 and is a well-known activist for Deaf Rights, not only in the Netherlands but worldwide:

Hello, last week I received some information about a new project about deaf people‘s history, the name of this project is Deaf Museums.

This sounds like a great project where we can collect information and share films, photos and possibly stories with each other.

The lives of deaf people today are very different than those of the past. Back then, deaf people came together in boarding schools of some even learned about deaf culture.

This doesn’t happen today, deaf children don’t come in contact with people to share their deaf history. I personally support this project, it will allow us to share information to all deaf people about our lives in the past and now, thank you!

English transcript


As for things about the museum, of course, every personality has a rich history and culture, whether hearing or deaf, but also blind people have a rich culture and history.

Hearing peoples have their museum and interesting history, but where are the deaf? Therefore, we need to show that even the deaf have their history, culture, past and curiosities. The deaf can offer many things, and other people with disabilities have something to show. Deaf people have enough information about history.

For example, athletes, we have deaf athletes at the highest level, the culture of the deaf is very rich. It is necessary to show the museum and show others what the deaf have been able to do. Hearing peoples often say that the deaf cannot do anything. This is not true; it must be seen and understood that the deaf has accomplished many things and are still proving it.

This means showing the rich culture and history of the deaf openly. I am in favour, and therefore I recommend creating a museum."

English transcript

Hello, international Deaf friends and hearing friends. My name is Junhui and I live in England in the UK.

I grew up in China and lived there before studying in America, and then coming here to work in England. I love Deaf history and I have met many deaf people and learnt a lot from their experiences of growing up, and all about their skills and knowledge, and their successes in employment and in sport, and about their pride in sign language performances, which are very beautiful.

Deaf people are often very skilled in the use of technology, and where there is no technology, they are very creative and innovative in creating resources and being happy.

When I was growing up, I went to a deaf school where I saw lots of deaf adults, and I realised that I could have a dream and vision of achieving things in the future. Hearing school children who are learning sign language also need to see deaf adults who are well functioning and love sign language, and they are just different. Sign languages are beautiful and deaf people are successful.

Deaf people are collecting videos of sign language use and of stories that deaf people tell. Through the years we can learn from these and this project is helping us to learn more and compare their differences, and to gain the confidence and knowledge that deaf people are successful, and certainly can gain.

English transcript

Peter Jackson is the CEO/Company Secretary of the British Deaf History Association. He has had a lifelong interest in both Deaf history and criminology. He is the author of numerous Deaf history and Deaf crime books.

He has been involved with the British Deaf History Society since 1997 and has been the Chief Executive since 2007. Since 2010 he has also been the President of Deaf History International.

Q: Should we still have a Deaf history museum now that there are far fewer physical museums than virtual museums?

P: That’s right, there are. But firstly, there are many artefacts of Deaf culture, such as equipment, paintings, and sign language collectibles, and we have to keep them for future generations, or for people who are researching and need to know what was happening back in 2000 or 1950, or whenever. I feel that it is important for Deaf people as well, for them to have pride in their heritage. If they have pride in their heritage, they will know more about what happened in the Deaf community in days gone by.

Q: Why do you think the Deaf history museum is important?

P: I feel it is important to have a physical museum, although we don’t always have enough room, or space. So it’s about combining both a physical space, where people can look around and enjoy actually seeing the artefacts, and online resources, where people can sometimes view artefacts virtually and see what they are…yes, both are important, I think.

English transcript

Dr. Carmel has written and published 3 books about Deaf Magicians:
  • Silent Magic: Biographies of Deaf Magicians in the United States from the 19th to 21st Centuries
  • Invisible Magic - Biographies of 112 Deaf Magicians From 28 Countries.
  • Out of the Magic Cloak
You can find the information on the Deaf Museums Website:

Transcript : JY: Could you explain for a moment the importance of Deaf Museums and Deaf history? Do you think they are important?

SC: Oh yes, Deaf history is very important for hearing and Deaf children and adults. It enables us to understand Deaf, Deaf people and their Culture and Community. It is very important to understand the history.

It also gives an insight into the lives of different individuals, such as philosophers, artists, storytellers, magicians and sportspeople.

JY: Thank you so much. I also have your books here, “Silent Magic”, “Invisible Magic”, “Out of the Magic Cloak”. They are very good.

SC: I am also working on a 4th book entitled “Wizzard of a Silent World”. JY (124-127) Oh wonderful, hopefully it will be published soon. Thank you.