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Workshop aims to raise deaf awareness

1 November 2022

The School of Music has hosted a free workshop, "Music for the Eyes", aimed at raising deaf awareness, as part of the university’s Festival of Social Science.

The workshop was led by Paul Whittaker OBE, a diversity speaker who has spent over 30 years leading song signing workshops, in addition to being a musician and a British Sign Language (BSL) performer for many musical shows and concerts across the UK.

Mr Whittaker explained how BSL works and encouraged participants to think about the actual meaning of a song beyond the lyrics, how it can be translated into BSL and how to include nonverbal elements of the musical text and the emotion contained in a song into a signed performance.

Organised by the School of Music’s Monika Hennemann and Angela Tarantini of the School of Modern Languages, the workshop began with a few really simple songs with simple signs, and participants worked up their skills to something a bit more complex.

Paul Whittaker then took part in a roundtable and Q&A session chaired by Angela Tarantini, whose Marie Curie fellowship is centred on sign language interpreted music.

Dr Monika Hennemann, co-organiser of the event, said: “Making music resonate for deaf people through sign language might seem impossible, but it isn’t. A hands-on afternoon of singing and signing songs with one of the foremost experts in the field, Paul Whittaker OBE explored how it's done. The workshop was a much-welcome opportunity to increase deaf awareness amongst Cardiff University staff and students in an inclusive and interdisciplinary fashion.”

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