Deaf people's fight for rights on film

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Media captionUnseen footage from the British Deaf Association shows British Sign Language being used in the 1930s

Long lost footage documenting the deaf community's fight for civil rights is being shown in cinemas across the UK.

The British Deaf Association (BDA) has compiled footage dating back to the 1930s for Power in our Hands, which covers the battle to have British Sign Language officially recognised.

It has been released in the association's 125th anniversary year.

For a deaf woman from Nottingham, the film was particularly poignant as it shows her father who died 50 years ago.

Image caption Gloria Pullen had not seen her father sign for over 50 years

Gloria Pullen was one of a number of deaf people asked by the BDA to help identify people in the footage.

She was "overwhelmed" when she spotted her father Arthur King, who died when she was 19, taking part in a cricket game for deaf players in the 1930s.

"To not see my dad sign since he passed away and then to suddenly see him on screen, it takes me back to being a little girl," she said.

"It is our language - it's like seeing a film in your language, you pick up the emotion, the intonation."

Image copyright British Deaf Association
Image caption Signing in early film footage allows the audience to see how people communicated before the advent of sound in cinema

Jemma Buckley, from the BDA, said the film reels were found in a skip in south London 12 years ago. The association received a Heritage Lottery grant to piece them together for the film.

"The deaf community do not see themselves as disabled. They see themselves as a cultural, linguistic minority with a rich and exciting heritage," she said.

"The really special thing about the fact that British Sign Language is captured on screen is you can actually see how people are communicating.

"You wouldn't get that in hearing films of that era because they were silent," she said.

The film is being shown at the Broadway cinema in Nottingham on Sunday and at screens around the country over the next month.

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