Search This Blog


Thursday, 19 May 2016

What Is Shape Arts?

Shape Arts 40 Years Logo

Shape Arts focuses on leading the way - in innovative fashion - for the inclusion of disabled people in the creative and cultural sector. Over the 40 years since Shape was founded, the first legislation recognising the rights of disabled people was introduced; Shape, keen to make a difference to disabled people, developed highly valuable access audits for arts and cultural venues.

These audits clearly mapped out the improvements and changes that would have to be made to include disabled people as audience members, employees and creatives. Disability Equality Training was delivered by Shape to staff from various organisations. Shape is also responsible for the very first National Disability Arts Conference back in 1991.

Due to their constant work with major cultural institutions their ultimate goal is to see disabled people reach their full potential and for their full inclusion into the mainstream of arts and culture.

Shape Arts workshop

Shape facilitate a workshop for disabled young people with Graeae Theatre Company

Shape has partnerships with high profile National Portfolio Organisations, such as:

  • Royal Opera House
  • National Theatre
  • Southbank Centre

Shape is a disability-led arts organisation continuously working to provide better opportunities and support for disabled artists. They also work with cultural organisations with the aim of generating greater inclusiveness and better confidence in working alongside disabled people. Shape’s main values are:

  • Inclusion
  • Ambition
  • Creativity
  • Excellence 

These values allow Shape Arts to work towards promoting greater accessibility and inclusion, thus opening talent and audience gateways. Accessible learning and development opportunities are also provided to help disabled artists and individuals build a sustainable career.

Shape provides a number of professional development opportunities, including:

  • Workshops
  • Networking Opportunities
  • Mentoring schemes

Exhibitions and events can be accessible both live and online, where the work of talented artists can be received and recognised, critiqued and congratulated, all in front of a diverse audience. Shape work with people of all ages and those from a whole range of cultural and economic backgrounds.

Shape Arts 40th Anniversary

Shape Arts 40 Years

This year sees Shape turn 40 and is undoubtedly going to be a special year for the organisation. There are sure to be many events and special occasions to mark the milestone and the hard work doesn’t slow up now they’ve reached four decades of constant campaigning for inclusion and better support for the disabled community.

Beyond their 40th anniversary year, Shape’s plans are to create free mobility and open pathways for all disabled people where their creative work is simply put forward and honoured on merit alone.

Accessible Venues

With Shape promoting equality and accessibility, it is only right that they list and promote accessible venues, providing:

  • Audio Description
  • Captioning
  • Sign Language Interpreted Performances (Our personal favourite, we’re only a little biased)
  • Relaxed Performances

Sign Language interpreted performances are a regular feature of the London theatre, allowing for Deaf people to have access in their preferred language British Sign Language (BSL). An Interpreter will be clearly visible and provide interpretation for everything that is spoken and heard during the show.

Shape Art Artist At Work
Artist Noëmi Lakmaier creating work in residency at one of Shape’s pop-up galleries

Now we know throughout this post we’ve used the word “disabled” a fair few times. While we recognise that many of the Deaf community view themselves as a linguistic, cultural minority, this has been used to explain the work of Shape Arts.

Apart from working with D/deaf artists and emerging creatives, Shape promotes accessible events through its website and social media that are accessible for deaf people. To take a few examples:

  •  Accessible Cinemas (Cineworld/ODEON) 

Subtitles for deaf people are available at certain performances at Cineworld. Hearing loops (either infra red or induction) are installed at all of their cinemas’ auditoria (except at The O2 Greenwich). Please check with the box office which facility is available. Next generation text service calls are available on their telephone booking service.

To find a subtitled performance at your local ODEON, simply select the “Subtitled” filter when viewing the performances at your cinema. In addition, the "Your Local Cinema" website provides full listings of captioned performances at ODEON and other cinemas. They also have Infra Red headsets available to support your hearing of the film soundtrack. Please enquire at the cinema Box Office if you require one of these headsets. In addition, hearing loops are available at some of their Box Office and food and drink counters, just look for the hearing loop symbol.
  • Accessible Heritage Sites (Banqueting House/Hampton Court Palace/Kensington Palace/Kew Palace and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage)

All are accessible in BSL, with induction loops available at Banqueting House and Hampton Court Palace.

  • Accessible Multi-Arts Centres (Barbican/Cecil Sharp House/Roundhouse/Southbank Centre) 
Roundhouse’s box office desk is equipped with a hearing loop system for those using hearing aids. The Main Space and the Studio Theatre are equipped with a Sennheiser Hearing Enhancement System. Details of captioned or signed performances will be listed under the dates and times tab on individual production pages. The Southbank Centre states BSL interpretation, speech-to-text and captioned performances are provided. The other two simply state they help deaf people be as independent as possible. 
  • Accessible Galleries (The Barbican Gallery/Dulwich Picture Gallery/National Gallery/National Portrait Gallery/Photographers Gallery/Royal Academy of Art/Shape Arts Gallery/Wellcome Collection/William Morris Gallery)
  • Accessible Museums (Design Museum/Geffrye Museum/Science Museum/Victoria & Albert Museum/V&A Museum of Childhood/Royal Museums Greenwich/Wallace Collection)

  • Accessible Theatres (Arcola Theatre/Donmar Warehouse/National Theatre/New Diorama Theatre/Royal Albert Hall/Royal Opera House/Saddlers Wells/Soho Theatre/Tricycle Theatre/Unicorn Theatre)

From all of us here at terptree we hope you have found this post interesting and informative. If you’d like to find out more about Shape Arts you can visit their website here >>

From wherever and whenever you’re reading this, we hope you have a great day J

Friday, 13 May 2016

People To Follow On Twitter For BSL Learners

So you're currently learning or want to learn the magnificent language that is British Sign language, also known as BSL.

Whether you're an avid learner or just intrigued to learn the basics, it can be hard to know where to start or who to go to for support. So that is why we have compiled a post that will see you on the right track and ensure you are following the right people on Twitter to make the mos out of your BSL.

So Who Should You Follow On Twitter And Why?


First we take a look at Signature, the leading awarding body for British Sign Language qualifications. They are the equivalent of Edexcel for GCSEs and A-Levels. Signature safeguards the interests of those who rely on communication professionals such as BSL interpreters or lipspeakers and ensure they are fully qualified and registered with NRCPD.

If you're looking to find all the latest information about BSL courses and updated changes to the curriculum, Signature is your best bet!

NRCPD are run by Signature and regulates communication and language professionals who work with deaf and deafblind people. If you're seeking to work with the deaf community, you're going to want to follow!

If you are not NRCPD registered you will it incredibly difficult to get any work! So following them and allowing yourself to keep up-to-date with any changes in criteria and terms & conditions is vital for your career.



Whilst not as big as their counterpart, iBSL offer their own form of BSL qualfifcations and gateways into working within the deaf community. Both iBSL and Signature are fully accredited so whomever you choose to learn with will ensure you are on the right path to obtaining the career you desire!


As your BSL skills improve and you become more immersed in the Deaf community, you'll want to challenge yourself.

BSLZone is the way to go! TV programmes produced by Deaf people for Deaf people, so what better way to learn?!

The shows are produced fully in British Sign Language (With the option of English subtitles), so you can really enhance your skills and learn from native speakers!

So follow their Twitter handle to keep updated on all their new shows.


Any sports fans here? In particular Rugby Union fans?

Well you might not know that former England rugby international and World Cup winner, Ben Cohen, is deaf. Whilst not a user of BSL, Ben is campaigning for a positive change in the world and is worth a follow to see how different deaf people cope and the positive impact the likes of Ben are making!


If you're looking to keep topped up with daily signs for various different words and phrases, British Sign is the Twitter account for you!

Featuring a Sign Of The Day you will regularly find the sign for new words, they also offer a great online course for BSL Level 1 (So they are a great place to start learning!).


ASLI is the professional association for British Sign Language Interpreters in the UK. They help to provide professional discussion on all issues relating to Sign Language interpreting in the UK.

They seek to encourage good practice and to support fellow professionals, so they are definitely worth a follow if you plan on being a Sign Language Interpreter!


Like ASLI, WASLI represent Sign Language Interpreters from across the world. They are committed to developing the profession of Sign Language Interpreting worldwide.

They also support pre-existing associations of Sign Language Interpreters and are one of the main pioneers for the profession of Sign Language Interpreting.If you're serious about being a Sign language Interpreter, then get following!


Another Twitter handle for the more serious BSL Student as opposed to a casual learner. Efsli provide access for discussion and information to its members and interpreters across Europe.

The current efsli is Peter Llewellyn-Jones from none other than the United Kingdom.

Well we hope you have found this information useful and if you know of any other useful Twitter handles that an aspiring BSL student should be following, let us know in the comments below.

Oh and we nearly forgot.....

Don't forget this account:


We think they're the best of the bunch ;)

Friday, 6 May 2016

Deaf Awareness Week - 2016 (Actress Extraordinaire)

Good day and welcome to our final post of Deaf awareness. It’s been an amazing week filled showcasing exactly what the Deaf community is all about!

So who is the topic of conversation for our final post you ask, she goes by the name of Marlee Matlin.

We have outlined her accomplishments in a previous blog entitled ‘5 Influential Deaf Actors’ (Click here to view it >> but we will be highlighting her more prominently here and all the amazing work she has done for the Deaf community.

By the age of just 18 months Marlee had lost all of the hearing in her right ear and 80% of the hearing in her left ear. It is believed that her hearing loss may have been the cause of a genetically malformed cochlea.

Marlee Matlin has had a hugely successful career. Making her stage career at the age of 7 as Dorothy in an International Center on Deafness and the Arts (ICODA) children’s theatre of The Wizard Of Oz and continued to appear with the ICODA children’s theatre group throughout her childhood.

This led to her discovery and saw her make her film debut in Children Of A Lesser God. This ultimately led her to obtain a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama as well as an Academy Award for Best Actress.

She has even portrayed a hearing character in the TV drama Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story and her performance earned a CableACE Nomination as Best Actress. On May 6th 2009 she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

She is a vital member of the Deaf community raising the most funds for a charity ever in a single event on TV, on the American Celebrity Apprentice. A total of $986,000 which then Donald Trump donated an additional $14,000 to make it an even million! She is also the American Civil Liberties Union celebrity ambassador for disability rights.

Matlin has received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from Gallaudet University in 1987. Then in October 2007, she was appointed to the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees.

She enjoys a sense of humour about her deafness: "Often I’m talking to people through my speaker phone, and after 10 minutes or so they say, “Wait a minute, Marlee, how can you hear me?” They forget I have an interpreter there who is signing to me as they talk. So I say, “You know what? I can hear on Wednesdays.”

She has also produced an app to help people learn American Sign Language (ASL). Whilst filming her many TV & Film performances she takes the time to visit Deaf children, offering advice and support. Marlee serves as the national spokeswoman for the largest provider of TV closed captioning (CC), and has spoken on behalf of campaigning the use of CC in countries such as Australia, England, France, and Italy.

This Is Only The Start

That concludes Deaf awareness week from us here at terptree and what a week it has been!

We hope you have enjoyed our posts over this week and we hope  will continue to join us in our work changing the world for deaf people. This is only the start of what we can accomplish together for the whole deaf community.

We leave you with some wise words from Marlee…..

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Deaf Awareness Week - 2016 (Poetry)

We hope you’re having a great week and are finding creative and fun ways to spread some Deaf awareness this week. For our penultimate post we have the late great Dorothy Miles.

Dorothy Miles was a poet and activist within the Deaf community. She composed her poems in:

-          English
-          British Sign Language (BSL)
-          American Sign Language (ASL)

She laid the foundations for modern Sign Language poetry in the UK and USA. Crafting a way for other Deaf artists to make their way into the creative world of poetry.

She is regarded as the pioneer for BSL poetry and her work has influenced many contemporary Deaf poets.

She contracted cerebrospinal meningitis which left her deaf. She was educated at the Royal School for the Deaf and Mary Hare School (If you’d like to read our post on this, check it out here >> By the age of 25 she left Britain to go over to the United States to enrol at Gallaudet College. During her time there she won various prizes for both her prose writing and poetry for acting.

After her graduation she worked as a teacher and counsellor for deaf adults and then joined the National Theatre of the Deaf, where she began to create Sign Language poetry that both deaf and hearing people alike could appreciate and enjoy.

Eventually returning back to England, Dorothy was soon involved in the National Union of the Deaf’s Open Door on the BBC, which became a pioneer TV programme in which she performed her poem ‘Language for the Eye’. She was also involved in discussions that led to the See Hear TV series.

She also worked with the British Deaf Association in supporting Deaf people throughout the UK. She was involved in setting up and then teaching on the British Sign Language Tutor Training Course, the first university course for training deaf people to become BSL tutors. She also wrote the best-selling BBC book BSL ‘A beginner's guide’, which was published to complement the television series.

As you can see Dorothy Miles has left a lasting impression on the Deaf community and that she has spearheaded a new generation of Deaf poets and activists. She helped bridge the gap between Deaf and hearing people in both a creative manner and generally as well. The Dorothy Miles Cultural Centre was established by a group of both Deaf and hearing friends in her memory.

That’s it from us till tomorrow!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Deaf Awareness Week - 2016 (Deafhood)

What Does It Mean To Be Deaf?

This man may have the answer:

Dr. Paddy Ladd is a Deaf scholar, author, activist and researcher of Deaf culture. He was one of the first presenters of BBC’s See Hear and presented the earliest programmes starting in 1984 in both Sign Language and spoken English.

He is a vivid campaigner for the rights of Deaf people since the 1980s and he was involved in the National Union of the Deaf, which is one of the earliest British Deaf activist organisations.

He wrote a book called ‘Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search Of Deafhood’ 

One of the book’s main aims is achieving Deaf unity.

With Paddy Ladd coming to the discovery that colonization is an integral part of the Deafhood philosophy, the term seen as arising from a colonisation process. Hence the need for Deaf people to have their own ‘Deaf related term’. Thus Deafhood was born.

Deafhood acknowledges that all Deaf people must embark on a self journey that refines and strengthens their Deaf identity.  If you are visually oriented in seeking information from your environment using a Sign Language rather than an oral language, then you have begun the search for Deafhood.

The writer of this book Paddy Ladd had a stressful time at school. Being one of the deaf children in mainstream education, he was not taught to use Sign Language but instead was forced to use his eyes to work out what was happening.

He remembers being told “You’re not a deaf child, you’re just a hearing child who can’t hear”. This devastated him, knocking his self-confidence and leading him to withdraw from society and bury himself in books. This could’ve broken him but in-fact led to him being such an influential figure in the Deaf community!

He soon became a pioneer creating the world’s first Sign Language pop video and devised the first masters course in Deaf culture. He was added to the Roll of Honour of the British Deaf Association for “Outstanding Contributions to the Deaf Community in Deaf Education”.

We hope you have enjoyed this insightful blog post and are engaging with the Deaf culture this week. See you tomorrow for our forth instalment in our Deaf awareness blog posts!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Deaf Awareness Week - 2016 (A White House Special!)

Day 2 of Deaf Awareness Week, we hope you’re doing your bit to help spread awareness of the deaf community and embracing deaf culture. We are very excited to bring you this post, from the office of the White House!

Leah Katz-Hernandez on the left                               Claudia Gordon on the right

These women are both Deaf and hold positions of high value in the White House. Not bad right?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that because they are Deaf, the hearing personnel may seek to simply keep them away from face-to-face contact due to fear of communication not going smoothly. Well these blog posts are about influential Deaf people, so that wouldn’t make a very fascinating blog now would it!

Leah Katz-Hernandez is one of the first staff members that visitors encounter upon their arrival at the White House. She is known as the Receptionist of the United States and is the 1st ever Deaf Person to hold this position!

She communicates through an American Sign Language (ASL) and her boss, the one and only Barrack Obama, once told a packed news conference that "her smiling face is one of the first things people see when they come into the White House", not a bad compliment coming from the President!

Now we have Claudia Gordon, a colleague of Leah Katz-Hernandez. She is the first African-American Deaf female attorney in the United States. She currently works at the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. She lost her hearing at the age of 8 and was unable to afford an education in her home country, so her mother brought her to New York where she went to a school for the deaf and learned Sign Language for the first time.

The discrimination and lack of support she experienced in her home country inspired her to become a lawyer and fight for the rights of people with disabilities.

Both Katz-Hernandez & Gordon have praised the Obama administration for their progressive philosophy and values. And they are not the only deaf people who work in the White House!

Katz-Hernandez & Gordon are helping to create a better world for the deaf community and show us all that deaf people can succeed in any profession they put their minds to! 

Monday, 2 May 2016

Deaf Awareness Week - 2016 (Inspirational Models)

Good day reader, this week is a very important one for the whole deaf community. Why is that you may be asking?


The whole point in Deaf Awareness Week is to celebrate deaf culture and there’s no better way of doing that than to give coverage, from Monday through to Friday, to some of the world’s most know inspirational deaf people.

So we start with Monday’s post (Just because it’s a bank holiday isn’t going to stop us doing our bit to change the world for deaf people!).

Nyle DiMarco

Nyle DiMarco is an American model after he won the 22nd season of America’s Next Top Model in 2015 and is the only deaf person to ever compete on the show and only the second male to ever win.

He comes from a Deaf family, with all of his close family being born Deaf. He graduated from Gallaudet University (If you’d like to checkout our blog on them >> with a degree in mathematics.

American Sign Language (ASL) is his native language as well as also being proficient in lip reading and nonverbal communication. DiMarco has made full use of his native language after having a leading role in an independent film called ‘In The Can’ that was performed in ASL accompanied with English subtitles. He has also played a recurring role of Garrett Banducci in Switched at Birth (A terptree favourite!).

DiMarco’s rise to fame saw him first doing freelance modelling for about a year before the producers of America’s Next Top Model last year. He was scouted via his Instagram without his deafness ever coming into play. Shortly after winning the competition, he signed with Wihelmina Models in New York City.

He is currently performing on the 22nd season of Dancing With The Stars. DiMarco is the second deaf contestant to be on the show, Marlee Matlin was the first.

Nyle DiMarco sees his celebrity status as an opportunity to bring awareness of Deaf culture (So we know he’ll love this blog). He sees his deafness as an advantage in modelling because he is accustomed to conveying messages without speaking.

We hope you have enjoyed this post and look forward to seeing you again tomorrow 😄