SummaryFor the production of sign language videos, experienced Deaf people are indispensable: as signers, as translators, scriptwriters, camera-persons, consultants, etc. In the European Union, it is very difficult for Deaf people to receive formal training in video and multimedia productions. Very little expertise is available in written or video format.
For your production, you can probably find the expertise, i.e. the people you need, through networking and personal contacts. International networking and co-operation may give you access to experience, and/or funding, that is not available in your country.
For teams to work well together, good communication, an understanding of each other’s - and one's own - strong and weak points, and respect for each other's culture and language, are indispensable. For the future of signing books productions, it is very important that more Deaf people receive training in this field.
Make a list of the expertise that you need for your production, and find the people or organisations that can give you access to this expertise.
In most countries, there is no single information centre or even network, where you can find all the expertise that you need. The number of experienced people in this field is small, the number of Deaf people with experience even smaller. Very little of the expertise and information you need is available in print or video format.
Be creative, and be flexible in your searches. Networking and personal contacts may be the only way to find the expertise, i.e. the people you need. All countries have a national Deaf organisation, several countries have a Sign Language Resource or Research Centre that may be able to advise you, or that may be willing to participate in a production.
Deaf clubs and Bilingual Schools for the Deaf may be able to help you find persons who can contribute to your production – either as ‘guinea-pigs’ for pilot testing, or as signers, actors, consultants, etc. If certain expertise is not available in your country, international networking - and possibly co-operation - may be a solution.
Most production teams are small, with each team-member having several roles. Teams minimally consist of:
Other team members may be: a shadow-signer, a caption-writer, a make-up/costume person, a graphical artist, a set designer, a lighting technician, researchers, consultants.
There are some all-Deaf teams, but most teams are mixed Deaf and hearing. When Deaf and hearing people first start working together, there may be an imbalance in expertise, and/or in power, because hearing team-members probably will have had more training in the video or multimedia field, while both groups may have little or no experience with the specific requirements of productions in sign language.
For teams to work well together, good communication, an understanding of each other’s - and one's own - strong and weak points, and respect for each other's culture and language, are indispensable.
Some teams are able to deal with all aspects of a production, other teams use subcontractors for certain activities, e.g. the filming, and/or the editing. If not, you may be able to collaborate with an experienced production team (experienced in the production of sign language videos).
Or you may be able to contract out (part of) the production.
In all situations where team-members do not share the same (sign) language, a sign language interpreter should be available; preferably a sign language interpreter with experience in the field of video and multimedia productions.
Details on the technical equipment you need can be found in the appendix to this document. If you don't have this equipment, Deaf organisations and (large) Schools for the Deaf may have a video-studio and/or technical equipment that you can use or rent.
Examples, half-products, other materials
Someone, somewhere, may already have made (almost) exactly the production you are thinking of. Ask around, check catalogues and databases. Maybe there is a foreign sign language video that can be translated or adapted. Maybe you can buy a script, or visuals, (almost) ready made.
In many countries, applying for funding will take (at least) as much time as actually making the production. Be realistic, and reasonable, in the funding you apply for. Asking too little and asking too much are both counterproductive.
If you add an ‘innovative’, ‘cultural’, or ‘educational’ flavour to your production, your production may qualify for some specificfundingprogramme in your country. If you make your production into an international co-production, you may qualify for funding by the EU.
Maybe you can fund (part of) your production by means of a trailer with advertisements, or maybe a company or organisation is willing to support your video if you film on their premises, use their name, wear their clothing..?
To avoid later problems, make sure that all agreements are put in writing, or better yet, are fully specified in contracts that are signed by all relevant parties
Chase Video Productions (GB) is located next to the Derby School for the Deaf. The main production team is all Deaf. Students and teachers of the school are used as guinea-pigs for new productions, and are involved as signers or voice-overs in some of the productions.
The editing suite of Chase Video Productions was donated by Toyota Cars. Co-operation between Chase and Channel 4 (Educational network in GB) resulted in Chase producing a growing number of Channel 4 School videos with a BSL signer superimposed, and distributing all Channel 4 videos with subtitles. During Deaf Awareness Week, Chase advertised on national TV.
A Grammar of Flemish-Belgian Sign Language
In Belgium (Flanders), the Free University in Brussels, Fevlado (National Deaf Organisation), and KIDS (School for Deaf and Speech-Impaired Children in Hasselt) jointly produced a grammar of Flemish-Belgian Sign Language for Deaf people, in sign language:“Grammaticale Aspecten van de Vlaams-Belgische Gebarentaal”.
The University provided the researcher/director, Fevlado the translator/signer, and KIDS the cameraman/editor, as well as the technical facilities. Raising the additional funds for this production still took over a year; without the donations in kind by the three partners, however, the production would have been impossible.
SIH Läromedel Örebro (SE) produced ‘Det Spökar’: a CD-ROM with ghost stories. The ghost stories are the winning stories of a story competition for Deaf students. On the CD-ROM, the winning authors sign their own stories. Original stories, great role models!
Det Spökar, SIH – SE
Chase Video (GB) exports a large number of its BSL videos to Norway, where Deaf children use them to learn BSL and English, as foreign languages. Co-operation with Norway resulted in the translation of an English Reading Scheme into British Sign Language by Chase Video.
SIH Läromedel in Örebro (SE) has produced a number of videos for Deaf children that have been translated into Norwegian and Danish Sign Language. A new multimedia math programme for young Deaf children will be developed as a Nordic co-operation project. Theprogramme will be produced on DVD, in four separate sign languages.