This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

Melissa Mostyn's film project: How it began / 15 June 2010

Isobel has been melting hearts ever since she was born. She has occupied my mind ever since she began occupying my womb. 

Isobel is my muse and the inspiration for my new venture. At 37 weeks pregnant I began creating a six-week video strand, The Baby Diaries, for BBC TV’s See Hear, and with it I began to ponder what it would be like for her to grow up in a deaf household if she was hearing (a good possibility, given that my deafness is not hereditary). 

My husband was away in London studying full-time for a year, so I spent my entire term alone in rural Bucks, napping, putting my feet up, reading, making video diaries. As my tummy expanded into a beachball I could no longer travel, and being more susceptible to sunburn I either hogged the garden’s shade like a petrified vampire, or shut myself away inside. 

Out of that summer hibernation emerged my idea for a film. My brain had become a cinema with its own previews and screenings. Sometimes it hosted a nostalgic evening, full of memories that played a pivotal role in the story’s development; sometimes it was a themed selection of shorts, exploring BSL/Deaf visual metaphors. Whatever the cinema chose to screen, it took its cues not just from the little person nestling lower down in my body, but also other CODAs (children of deaf adults). 

Apparently, children who grow up in a BSL community tend to develop Deaf identities, regardless of whether they are deaf or hearing. Some adopt BSL as their first language so fast that their first attendance at a nursery where everyone speaks is often a culture shock. Some even undergo speech therapy to ‘correct’ the Deaf voices they’ve inherited from their parents. 

These experiences might sound strange, but they do reinforce the existence of Deaf Culture, and its mutual relationship with Deaf community values and BSL, ensuring that absolutely anyone born into a Deaf environment could adopt it. 

It's an unusual feature of Deaf Culture and I'm keen to explore it on film. I'm sorry I can't say what my story is exactly, for copyright reasons, but suffice to say I love what I'm visualising and I can't wait to make it a reality.

Keywords: access issues,codas,deaf culture,film,normality,other cultures,subversion,