Lockdown for Deaf young people is more challenging than for hearing young people. The majority of Deaf young people are born to hearing families forced to follow an ‘oral’ method of education, reliant on speech and lipreading. Social distancing for Deaf young people is double isolation; they often cannot communicate with parents and siblings in the family home to any great degree, often travel long distances in taxi’s to attend specialist educational provision, resulting in isolation from their neighbourhood peers. During this time of social distancing, they have lost both their education and social opportunities. Literacy levels are traditionally behind hearing peers of the same age so written information inaccessible.
There are currently no Deaf accessible dance sessions for young people in the Black Country and anecdotal evidence from young Deaf people is that they feel unable to participate in activities with hearing children as they cannot always follow instructions and feel left behind. They feel excluded socially in mainstream groups as hearing children are not supported with skills for inclusion. Deaf young people often drop out of activities, losing confidence to join any further arts activities for fear of repeating the same experience. This leads to lack of self-esteem and self-confidence.
Due to a lack of accessible information during “lockdown” about community initiatives to improve well-being and strengthen mental health, Deaf people either do not receive information or it is delayed, for example, exercise sessions on Instagram, by Joe Wicks have gone viral during lockdown, proving incredibly popular with families and young people. However, Deaf families on social media, have complained these activities are inaccessible for Deaf young people. I aim to challenge this.