In 2020 Deaf Explorer successfully applied to Thrive. The research question, “Can the emerging acceptance of online learning bring deaf role models into the learning environment for deaf and hard of hearing children, and can online access bring a wider audience of participants to Deaf artists?”

Man with arms out stretched Screen Shot from Billy Reads Online Tutorials

Billy Read is a Deaf performing artist who specialises in Hip Hop theatre and street dance. Billy created a series of street dance tutorial videos on YouTube in BSL for Deaf Children to enjoy, be inspired and learn new skills during the lockdown. School’s requested that Billy Read present a thirty-minute dance workshop online, live and run a workshop for all the children in the class. The session happened at the same time each week. The live stream was fully accessible with communication support and voice over by Deaf Explorer. Our promotion involved 24 schools with a Deaf Resource Base (HIRB). Cycle 1 reached 150 primary school pupils and 36 secondary school pupils, Cycle 2 involved 149 pupils, and cycle 3 delivered more sessions, and the number of participants increased to 185 pupils.

Amongst the schools participating: Braidwood School for the Deaf in Birmingham, Deaf Support Base in Vyners School, Middlesex, Kingsbury Green Primary, London, Knotty Ash, Liverpool, Lythe Primary school (North Yorkshire), Thomas Hinderwell Primary Academy, Scarborough.

Screen Grab of love online Tutorial to schools

After each cycle, the number of schools participating increased. Billy Read demonstrated, Deaf leadership amongst hearing pears. He was a Deaf Role model, improving the self-esteem and confidence of young deaf children. Overall, the project allowed Deaf explorer to build strong connections in schools with Deaf children. Billy Read designed an accessible and achievable learning session that sustained interest and involvement by Deaf children.

Together, we inspired deaf children, proven by the letter to Blue Peter from a deaf child requesting that Billy Read receive a Blue Peter Badge for his hard work.