I am very sorry not to be at QI this year to receive this award. Please somebody buy Ken and John a couple of beers for pretending to be me for a few minutes. I trust they are dressed appropriately for the occasion.
This small book, Signs of Hope, is based on my PhD at the Narrative Inquiry Centre, Bristol, and tells a story of an intimate inquiry with three amazing deafhearing families. I promised them that if they told me their stories, I would write them down for others to read.
People who know me know I tend to get quite shouty and soapboxy when it comes to the discrimination and ignorance deaf people and their families have to face and deal with on a daily basis. The stories recorded here in this book are but a drop in the ocean. The UK government finally ‘recognised’ British Sign Language as an indigenous language 10 years ago, but since then, more and more deaf schools have closed, mental illness and unemployment within the deaf community are on the increase, and deaf people are being denied access to basic and vital services. Deaf people’s voices are being catastrophically lost in the noise of the normalising rhetoric of wealthy right-wing, public-school-educated politicians.
Can books like this make a difference? I don't know. But I got in touch with Bella last month: she is a young deaf woman who told me her family story when she was ten years old. She said you all should read this book so you can learn to see people in a different way; “deaf’s way”. Her faith in the ability of stories to change the world for the better pretty much sums up how I feel about this work being recognised by the QI community. I’m secretly a little relieved that Ken and Jonathan are there doing this for me as I’d be in floods of tears by now.
Thank you to the nominees and judges. I’m still in shock writing this. But the recognition of this book makes me want to march to 10 Downing Street waving a copy and shouting at the top of my voice, “SEE!!”