A sensory photography project for people who are deafblind or with sensory impairment.
© Hazel/Sense/PhotoVoice/2015 From Hazel’s Poem: “Makes me feel happy, everyone makes me feel happy today. The happiness, when you are really proud of yourself”
PhotoVoice worked in partnership to develop a pilot sensory photography project with national charity Sense, who support and campaign for people who are deafblind or with sensory impairment. Sense recognise that art is an important tool of expression for adults and children who are deafblind – whether this is as artists, participants or as an audience. To support this aspect of their work, Sense has been expanding their portfolio of arts and wellbeing work. The participatory photography project with PhotoVoice contributed to this on-going programme, as well as providing the opportunity to showcase their latest redeveloped centre, TouchBase South East in Barnet.
Sense are a national UK charity that support and campaign for adults and children who are deafblind or have sensory impairments. Deafblindness, which is estimated to affect approximately 250,000 people in the UK, is a combination of sight and hearing loss that can affect a person’s ability to communicate, access all kinds of information and get around.
Sense is at the forefront of finding different ways to raise awareness of the issues surrounding deafblindness, and develop new sensory experiences. They have recently redeveloped their purpose built day centre in Barnet, TouchBase South East. Working with deafblind people to develop the centre, it offers facilities such as a new art room which enables the creation of woodwork, pottery and tactile media, and a new multi-sensory room. This darkened room is used for relaxation and interaction as individuals use switches, microphones and sensors to operate lights and sounds in the room. The participatory photography project will provide an insight into the users’ experiences of the centre.
PhotoVoice has previously undertaken sensory photography projects both in the UK and overseas, and support Sense’s view that photography can cross barriers and help people to express themselves.
Throughout the course of the workshops, the project provided 10 deafblind users of TouchBase South East with new skills and a way to access and enjoy photography as a creative pursuit and means of communication. This created new opportunities for meaningful communication and interaction between deafblind people and their peers, families and support workers.
The pilot project introduced Sense to new tools that can be used now and in the future to build participation with deafblind people in the creation of campaign content and communications materials concerning issues that they face and potential solutions.
Over the course of six sessions, service users of TouchBase South East were introduced to camera skills, which they used to both explore the new centre and as a form of expression. This deepened the participants knowledge of the centre itself and how they can use its facilities. They also created materials that will be used by Sense and PhotoVoice to increase public understanding of the experience of deafblindness and the experiences of those affected by sight and hearing loss.