Case Studies & Resources


A powerful sign for inclusion

Culture partner | Deaf Action

Business partner | SignLive Ltd

The project
Edinburgh is the city in which BSL was codified and is home to the largest arts festival in the world, yet Deaf Action identified that local deaf people did not see the Edinburgh International Festival or Fringe as ‘something for them’. In a bid to change this, August 2023 saw the Edinburgh Deaf Festival (EDF) deliver a 10-day programme of over 70 events to celebrate deaf culture and promote a positive deaf identity.  Running concurrently with the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, the interpreting team also worked a number of partners to make an additional 90 Fringe shows accessible for deaf people. Theatre, comedy, film, debates, tours and workshops all played their part in showcasing deaf talent, raising awareness of the inherent creativity of sign language and promoting inclusive communication strategies. And, as Deaf Action designed the Festival to be accessible for deaf and hearing communities alike, hearing audience members were transported to a deaf world for a fully immersive experience.

The partnership 

EDF aims to be an internationally recognised hub for deaf culture and an incubator for deaf creative talent; to be a key stakeholder in deaf culture and and raise the profile of BSL within mainstream events/festivals; and to become the principal venue for deaf cultural and partnership events. The organisation’s also lasting legacy benefits mean a wider range of people participating in deaf culture and the arts, improved wellbeing for deaf people and increased resilience for Deaf Action itself.

Established in 2004, SignLive introduced the videophone to the UK deaf community, providing instant access to BSL interpreting through video conferencing. As both SignLive and Deaf Action are deaf-led and deaf-owned organisations, values of accessibility, equality, diversity and inclusion are passionately shared; the two organisations had worked together in the past so the partnership bore all the hallmarks for success. With programming aligned to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, local, national and international audiences could be reached – a key consideration for SignLive who saw the opportunity to directly engage with their target markets and recruiting new customers. The business provided their vital services in-kind, allowing EDF organisers to redirect their limited budget towards growing the festival line-up.

The positive outcomes
In 2023, the EDF reached its largest audience, engaging with just under 25,000 people and attracting 2,500 attendees to events. Older members of the deaf community had the opportunity to experience SignLive technology for the first time, in a safe space, and the business has been delighted to welcome a number of new subscribers as a direct result of connections made during the festival. SignLive were also introduced to EDF’s other key sponsors, such as Standard Life, and to key partners, such as the Pheonix Group. In addition, For the vast majority of attendees, this was their first experience of a deaf arts and culture festival and 100% of attendees felt that the Festival successfully promoted inclusion. Additionally, the Fringe Society reported a record number of BSL interpreted performances as a result of the influence and support of this partnership.

We were delighted to have the support of SignLive as headline sponsors of the 2023 Edinburgh Deaf Festival. It was a pleasure to have Martin from SignLive on-site throughout the festival, engaging with our staff and community. We also very much welcomed SignLive’s support in our application for match-funding from the CBFS, and we were thrilled that our application was successful, allowing the festival to go ahead despite funding challenges in other areas.
Philip Gerrard, CEO |Deaf Action
SignLive were delighted to be the headline sponsor for the Edinburgh Deaf Festival, 2023. The Edinburgh Deaf Festival is an accessible celebration of deaf culture, language and heritage, which heavily reflects SignLive's values. It is an event we felt honoured and excited to support and promote, with the events being accessible to deaf people and mainstream audiences, the Edinburgh Deaf Festival presented an amazing opportunity for everyone to immerse themselves in deaf culture and enjoy the rich variety of performances.
Fiona MacKay, Chief Operating Officer | SignLive

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