Exhibition: Deafblind Awareness: a tactile imagination

Deafblind Awareness: a tactile imagination, is an exhibition showing in Capsule until 3 August 2021.

Learn more about the Deafblind Awareness: a tactile imagination exhibition, by Deafblind Victoria and with photographer Jessica Leane, showing in Capsule until 3 August 2021. 

Those who can neither see nor hear face enormous challenges. Hands and the sense of touch are powerful channels that Deafblind people use to communicate and to navigate the world. Some use a tactile form of Australian Sign Language (Auslan), placing their hands on the hands of another, or use a finger to read raised braille dots on devices that connect to computers and smart phones. Some travel independently on public transport, holding a white cane to feel obstacles. 

While many deafblind people remain socially isolated, a Deafblind community has emerged in Melbourne, where members set up a self-advocacy group in 2007 - Deafblind Victoria (DBV). 50 Deafblind people meet regularly at Ross House in Flinders Lane, getting social connection, building a tactile culture and promoting inclusion in the wider community. Issues faced include a chronic shortage of interpreters and support workers skilled in deafblind communication.

Each year, Deafblind Awareness Week is held around Helen Keller’s birthday on June 27. This year, DBV is celebrating by showcasing the achievements of deafblind Victorians in an exhibition of photographic portraits. Subjects include Heather Lawson, who co-created a special table for tactile signing, Gina Pontelandolfo who makes remarkable macramé creations, and Paola Avila who is raising a child with her Deafblind partner.

These DBV members and others, over the years, have learned the route between Flinders Street station and Ross House, passing the site of the exhibition in Campbell Arcade to Degraves street and Flinders lane. For Deafblind Awareness Week 2021, DBV will yarn bomb trees and other objects in Flinders lane – a tactile art project that symbolizes the coming together of the Deafblind community. Keep an eye out for the colourful creations of Deafblind Victoria, the Capsule exhibition, and even the subjects of the portraits who may well be passing through!

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