Audiovisability’s ‘Calypso’ will bring together deaf and hearing musicians, artists, film makers, and writers from across the UK, USA, and Barbados. Music is a powerful expressive tool in society and, in our digital age, often attracts and inspires people from all corners of the world. Audiovisability will draw on the vibrant history of Calypso music on the island of Barbados, blending it with Hip-Hop and digital music, to emphasise the island’s culture as well as looking at deafness and the world at large.
However, deafness is not often seen as a positive thing in this world. A local, professional Barbadian Sign Language interpreter Bonnie Leonce expresses her concern by writing:
“Deaf people in Barbados leave school and are in a world of their own unless they go out and find a job which pays them very little since they have nothing in terms of certificates to prove they are capable of carrying out certain duties. The sad thing about this is that (…) when you ask them what their dreams are or what they want for themselves in the future, the answer is simply: nothing! Why? Because as they see it, their future is a dead end.”
There is a lack of decent education and job opportunities for deaf people on the island. The relatively small community is neglected and rarely (if ever) at the forefront or attention of society. Job opportunities for deaf people are less than mediocre and poorly paid, and the deaf community suffers from low morale. Audiovisability wants to respond to Bonnie’s concerns by showing both the deaf and hearing communities what deaf people can achieve with the right opportunities and support.
Audiovisability believes that the deaf community should be given the opportunity to explore their culture and identity through music and art and, more importantly, experience wider inclusion within society. To achieve this, Deaf Rapper Sean Forbes, from Detroit USA, will create three new songs that respond to the local community. He will be joined by Barbadian musicians and numerous creatives from the UK and USA, including visual artist James Boyle, award winning photographer Stephen Iliffe, and film makers Ramon Woolfe and Adrean Mangiardi. This collaboration will have a community focus, with open-to-the-public concerts and exhibitions held in April 2018.
‘Calypso’ is a very real, exciting and ground-breaking opportunity for the deaf community of Barbados to be brought to the forefront of attention, building self-confidence, language development, and pride. It will promote engagement with the hearing world and the opportunity for the deaf community to begin harnessing their talents and using new skills to establish community projects and businesses of their own.
Whilst this isn’t a quick fix for the wider problem, we hope to provide a voice for the Barbadian deaf community forward to turn a corner in their lives after the impact of this project.
“When we treat all our citizens as ‘whole’, then we become a better functioning society.”
Currently, Audiovisability is 80% of the way to realising this project with support from Decibels, Barbados Council for the Disabled, SpecialKidz International, Trusts and Audiolabbs. Please can you kindly help us to raise the last 20% by digging deep and considering making a donation? Thank you!