For five years, I have given presentations and keynote speeches in BSL at conferences, festivals, and invite-only events – both within the Deaf Community, and mainstream – that revolve around the lived experience from an individual Deaf perspective.
While the topics I am invited to cover are often sensitive and raw, I always aim to be articulate and candid in my delivery, ensuring that my audience comes away with a new understanding that cannot be gleaned from academic research. Subjects that I have personal experience of include domestic abuse, mental health issues, grief, special-needs parenting, and Deaf identity issues.
My first lived-experience presentation – which explored being a parent-carer – was at a Healthy Deaf Minds semi-monthly event in 2011. Since then, I have appeared as part of the Crash and Burn panel chaired by Rosie Boycott at Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival; the annual Women’s Aid conference (again on a panel, this time chaired by the organisation’s CEO Polly Neate); and NHS Safeguarding’s oversubscribed Hidden Voices conference, where I was a keynote presenter addressing over 350 senior medical professionals – all in 2015.
In the same year, I shared my experiences as a Deaf parent of a disabled child with a PowerPoint at Heathlands School for Deaf Children. My last keynote presentation was in 2016 at the British Society of Mental Health and Deafness (BSMHD)’s annual conference, where I gave an emotionally charged account as a Deaf user of counselling.
If you’d like to book me for a presentation at your conference that concerns the Deaf lived experience, please do get in touch at: mostynmelissa at gmail dot com