Being part of the Deaf community, or any minority, it can sometimes be hard to come across opportunities in life. Opportunities that you quite simply deserve!
There are many times in all of our lives when we have to digest some news we’d rather just pretend isn’t real. When we have to face up to hard times, push through the struggle and come out stronger than ever before. Even when everyone doubted us!
This blog post is going to be hard to take for some readers, don’t shoot the messenger, we here at terptree just couldn’t let this news slip unheard of.
So sit back, grab a coffee, tea, whichever beverage suits your fancy. Take a deep breath and join us on this roller-coaster ride of emotions.
Introducing TAEDS (Theatre Arts, Education & Deaf Studies) at Reading University, it is an internationally recognised undergraduate degree course that is completely unique.
This extraordinary course allows for both hearing and Deaf studies to study drama and theatre side-by-side. The course also allows students to develop the skills required in teaching and leadership roles within a total communication environment.
There simply is no other course that aims to integrate deaf and hearing actors through onstage performance work. The visual and physical aspects of performance in the course are paramount in allowing the experience to be truly integrated and accessible to a mixture of deaf and hearing audiences.
The course offers an invaluable practical experience, giving the students the opportunity to perform various drama related work in:
– Mainstream Schools
– Special Schools
– Special Schools for the deaf children
TAEDS has numerous links with professional theatre companies and practitioners such as Graeae Theatre, Deafinitely Theatre and Pegasus Theatre, as well as with professionals in the education, communication and medical fields associated with the subject.
Like with everything in life, some form of pre-existing knowledge is beneficial but not essential because BSL (British Sign Language) is also taught on the course! Also allowing for the opportunity to gain Signature-accredited professional qualifications in BSL.
Here is a montage promo from TAEDS:
I know, I know
Having got this far it sounds like the purpose of this blog post is simply to “sell” you the TAEDS course but that’s not quite the case. Yes all of us here at terptree think the course is amazing and a brilliant opportunity, especially at giving great exposure, opportunities and growth for the deaf community.
But I’m not here to market this course for Reading University, nor am I associated with them.
The fact of the matter is being a part of this tightly knit deaf community you hear all of the related stories and news.
So if the CLOSURE OF THE TAEDS course was going to slip under our radar, then the ones with this power were sadly mistaken. That’s right TAEDS is coming to an end!
There Needs To Be Change
We’re truly shocked at this decision and our hearts go out to all the students will no longer get the chance to experience this amazing course. As part of the deaf community it is our duty to spread awareness of Deaf culture and deaf related news.
With Bristol University closing their access to Deaf studies in 2013, TAEDS was 1 of only 3 Deaf courses in the country. We at terptree want that number to grow, not shrink!
The decision may be final and this blog may not change the authorities’ decisions in any way shape or form. However we here at Terptree advocate a positive message of growth of services that take the deaf and hearing community further. Not the reduction of such opportunities!
The Inside Scoop
We recently received communication from an academic tutor at TAEDS regarding what the programme director has been told.
The matter of TAEDS closure was taken all the way to the new Head of the Institute of Education, Cathy Tissot. The final part of the process took place on Thursday 15th October in a Programmes Board meeting. Despite an hour long dispute the decision to shut down the course was sadly taken.
All 3 years worth of TAEDS students were present during the meeting and stood signing the song ‘Fight Song’ as Cathy Tissot (the head of the Institute of Education and the bearer of bad news) entered the room.
Barely moments prior to this, the students found out the upsetting news and there were a lot of tears as they signed, thus poignant song.
This means TAEDS will not be recruiting into 2016 and the programme will eventually be phased out by 2018.
The current students have organised a hugely impressive, passionate and determined campaign focused on saving the course.
There is a petition going on at the moment. Now it may not make any difference now but we’d appreciate it if you could check it out and share so we can maintain awareness of this issue.
Amounting more than 1,780 of their 2,500 goal, the petition has gained great coverage. Appearing in a range of local and national media formats. Not only that, but a protest was held outside the Senate’s meeting on the 14th October.
Take a look at the petition here:
Apparently it was as a result of this impressive campaign that so much consideration was given to Cathy Tissot’s withdrawal proposal at the Programmes Board meeting.
A number of meetings and emails have been exchanged to the very highest levels of the University to make the case for the programme. The current external examiners have also advocated on behalf of the programme.
Even with such high media coverage and over 1,780 signatures, Reading University felt that the student recruitment numbers were too low to continue the course.
However, we feel with more effective marketing for the course, these numbers could have been easily increased!
It cannot be found on the UCAS website and you have to dig through many pages on the university website to even find the course.
The press release from the university regarding the closure is as follows:
TAEDS Track Record
It is even a greater shame that the TAEDS course is closing as it boasts a95% employment rate after graduation, one of the highest of the entireReading University.
It is of no doubt in our mind that the current 31 students currently studying on the TAEDS course will go out and make a positive change in the world. They will change attitudes, build confidence and create an environment accessible for everyone with no fear of judgement.
Does another course really promote such positive action outside of the qualification?
A selection that previous TAEDS now find themselves working in:
– Education (Mainstream & SEN)
– Speech & Language Therapy
Not only do TAEDS students find successful work in the UK but also worldwide. It will be sad to witness the impact the closure of the TAEDS course has on the deaf community, the local area and to the future of the professions mentioned above.
We managed to gain some feedback from ex students and terptree interpreters about what TAEDS meant to them:
“What can I say? Wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for this unique, challenging and eye- opening journey. I made some lifelong friends and lasting memories I’ll never forget. Also I wouldn’t be the interpreter that I am without the influence of the course interpreters and Deaf peers. I’m truly gutted and feel very sad for the future students who will never have the opportunities I am so grateful to have experienced. Utter travesty.”
Sam Dean, Interpreter (RSLI) & former TAEDS student
“I have been lucky enough to interpret, teach, and work in theatre. In each industry I have bumped into TAEDS and felt the support and joint ambition that graduating from TAEDS gives you. It is a special bond unlike any other degree course I have come across. TAEDS will continue changing the world and hopefully, one day, the university, or maybe even some TAEDS graduates, will set up a new TAEDS course again.”
Anastasia Becker, Interpreter (TSLI) & former TAEDS student
The support that the deaf community has shown for this truly unique course has been nothing short of impeccable. We hear that TAEDS will still be celebrating its 30th anniversary next year. It’ll be a sad occasion to be seeing it all come to an end but I’m sure many great memories will be shared and the course will be given the proper send off it deserves.