Fifteen-year-old Naomi Rafferty from Ballymena, who is mildly deaf, is to feature in a film which hopes to raise awareness of deafness in the arts, after winning a national competition.
The ‘Raising the Bar’ competition was developed by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) to drive expectations of what the 45,000 deaf children and young people in the UK can achieve.
Naomi, along with eleven other deaf young people, was selected by leading deaf professionals from the arts industry for showcasing exceptional talent in Hip Hop dance.
Defmotion’, the UK’s only touring deaf dance crew, were involved in selecting the winners and have invited them to a dance masterclass on 24-25 May. Hosts include acclaimed deaf flutist Ruth Montgomery and Danny Lane from ‘Music and the Deaf’, a unique charity working to ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy music.
The newly found ‘Raising the Bar’ stars will work towards a live showcase at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre which will be filmed and sent out to teachers across the country. The recording will form part of a resource pack which will include top tips on teaching deaf children, information on how to make classes and venues deaf-friendly and guidance on addressing the communication needs of deaf children and young people. NDCS hopes this will encourage everyone working within the arts to ensure that all deaf children and young people can be included in the same activities as their hearing peers.
Former Hollyoaks actress, and star of ABC’s ‘Switched at Birth’, Rachel Shenton launched the competition at the beginning of this year. She said: “The talent showcased by deaf children and young people has blown me away! I know the judges were faced with a tough decision on who would win. So, a big congratulations to all the entrants.
“My dad lost his hearing through illness so I’ve seen first-hand the isolating impact that deafness can have. I also studied performing arts myself so I know how important it is that all children have an environment in which they can learn new skills, build confidence and make friends.”
“Deaf children can do anything other children can do. We just need to get the support right.”
Hayley Jarvis, Head of Inclusive Activities for NDCS said: “We had a fantastic response displaying a range of dance and music talents from hip hop to ballet, clarinet, piano and song.
“Deaf children and young people should have the same opportunity to take part in dance and music as their hearing friends. We hope that the new guidance for professionals, which Naomi will help us develop, will make sure deaf children get the same opportunity to pursue their dreams”.