About the Project

A research project by the University of the Witwatersrand (SA) and the University of Manchester (UK) using community based film methods to explore issues of vulnerability and resilience that deaf youth face in South Africa.

Deaf children and youth face discrimination and exclusion from society. They are not given adequate opportunities for acquiring language, building meaningful relationships, receiving specialised healthcare and receiving equal education. All this vastly decreases their life-chances and infringes their human rights. A multi-disciplinary international collaboration, supported by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Global Challenges Research Fund, brings visual anthropology, social research and deaf studies together to enlighten and positively shift social attitudes towards deaf children and youth.


SASL info

Click for a video introduction to the project in South African Sign Language

Our objectives


This project enhances the resilience of deaf children by starting from something they are excellent at – understanding the world visually. By developing new skills in photography and filmmaking deaf children are telling the rest of the world about their lives and influencing how others understand them.


This project is helping young deaf people challenge negative perceptions about themselves through making films that explore their own future. Through telling and showing with film, dreams and possibilities can start to be explored – turning ‘I can’t’ into ‘I can’.


Deaf young people are exceptionally vulnerable. Working with young deaf filmmakers and their families and teachers, we are making short films about how to keep safe, what to do if you experience abuse and how to help yourself and others. These resources will be used throughout South Africa in the future.


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Latest news

Emotion films

Most of our teaching of filmmaking belongs to the tradition of realist documentary which constitutes the standard for much visual anthropology. On the last day of our workshops with VN Naik School for the Deaf I introduced a different approach to filmmaking, mostly to be able to test methods in advance of Phase 2 of […]

VN Naik School for the Deaf: Workshop 3

Our final workshop included children and young people of ages between 15 and 22 from both the VN Naik and Fulton Schools for the Deaf. Both schools are situated on the outskirts of Durban, KwaZulu Natal. We began with an exercise of using still photography to capture images representing what is considered being good and […]

Parent Workshops

Parenting a deaf child can feel like a lonely journey. Sharing with other parents is so often a very real source of comfort and support. One of our workshops spanned a weekend where parents and their children were engaged in parallel activities. While the children enjoyed time both behind and in front of the camera, […]

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“Resilience is about bouncing back in the face of adversity. Deaf young people face very particular challenges in achieving their potential and becoming full citizens. As visual people, they also have unique resources on which to draw. Through the use of community based film methods, this project tunes in to those latent strengths as visual learners with the capacity to develop new resiliencies given the right opportunities. The work is pioneering.”

Professors Alys Young and Andrew Irving, University of Manchester

Deaf Camera is a partnership between

Meet the Team

Our project's academic investigators, managers and partners in the UK and South Africa

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