Many D/deaf children (sign language users/those who are hard of hearing) struggle with Shakespeare as the methods of teaching are not easily accessible to them. There are at least 45,631 deaf children in the UK, only 41% of whom pass five GCSEs; 29% of deaf children use some form of sign language, but there are very few sign language-based resources for studying Shakespeare. The Signing Shakespeare project (born out of the collaboration between the University of Birmingham and the Royal Shakespeare Company) has worked with D/deaf theatre practitioners and teachers of the D/deaf to tackle the problem of access. It has undertaken a pilot study on Macbeth with three schools for the D/deaf, producing active lesson plans based on RSC rehearsal-room practice, and making films of key scenes in British Sign Language.
Abigail Rokison-Woodall, project leader, is joined by Tracy Irish ( RSC), Angie Wootten (University of Birmingham) and Charlotte Arrowsmith (actor and director) to discuss the project's aims and methods and to showcase the films.