Choosing to be deaf : leisure and sport in the deaf community of north-west England, 1945-1995
This thesis reconstructs the history of deaf people‘s leisure and sporting activity since World War Two. Using north-west England as a case study, the research covers a period of fifty years and has resulted in both quantitative and qualitative data being collected. The quantitative approach has seen the first comprehensive examination of the leisure activities of this significant but largely misunderstood minority community. Revealing the hidden history of the deaf community‘s social practices gives rise to a reappraisal of the academic models used to determine membership of the community and questions the long-held perception of deaf people as being disabled. In addition, a number of qualitative issues are addressed here, including an assessment on the leisure choices and motivations of deaf people. Whilst the focus is primarily on deaf people, their leisure history is set within the broader contexts of the regional, community and leisure histories of north-west England. The ways in which trends and traditions in the wider population of the area have influenced deaf leisure are discussed and the ways in which deaf people‘s social lives might be seen to mirror or vary from those of their hearing neighbours are illustrated. Central to this process is an investigation of the development and central position of the network of social clubs provided for deaf people. These clubs acted as the surrogate homes of the geographically dispersed deaf community and their vital role in building and maintaining the community will be indicated. This research is based primarily on data gathered from newspapers produced mainly by and for a deaf readership. These sources provide an insight into the lives and views of deaf people that is not available elsewhere and their use is innovative as a means of reconstructing social history on this scale.