Heriot-Watt University supports the 2023 Edinburgh Deaf Festival



Launch of Edinburgh Deaf Festival 2023
Members of the Edinburgh Deaf Festival team singing “Welcome To Our World.” Left to right are: Philip Gerrard (CEO of Deaf Action), festival ambassador Nadia Nadarajah, festival producer Jamie Rae and actor Amy Murray.

Heriot-Watt University is supporting the second annual Edinburgh Deaf Festival, a 10-day festival of drama, comedy, film, exhibitions and workshops for both deaf and hearing audiences.

More than 60 events will be offered across the 2023 Edinburgh Deaf Festival, which runs from 11-20 August and includes entertainment for children and young people and other activities.

The organisers and performers are encouraging hearing people to see the shows and discover the richness of deaf heritage, language and culture.

We are proud to be a deaf and BSL-friendly University and are thrilled to be supporting the second annual Edinburgh Deaf Festival.

Dr Robert Adam, Heriot-Watt University

Jamie Rea, a deaf, Glasgow-based multidisciplinary artist who is producing the 2023 festival on behalf of Edinburgh-based charity Deaf Action, said: “We have collaborated with talented local and international deaf artists, proving that deafness is not a limitation, but a reason for celebration.

“We’re breaking down barriers, creating an inclusive space for the deaf community, and extending a warm welcome to hearing audiences who we would love to try something different by discovering deaf culture, language and heritage.”

Heriot-Watt is the festival's interpreting sponsor, which involves supporting the provision of British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters for various performances and events. BSL is the first or preferred language of deaf people and is a rich visual language distinct from English with its own complex grammatical structure using gestures, facial expressions, and body movements. 

Heriot-Watt University has had a long-standing commitment to support BSL teaching and the training of BSL/English interpreters since 1995 and is a leading University globally in the fields of Sign Language and Deaf Studies.

Dr Robert Adam, a deaf academic who is Head of the BSL section in the Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt, specialises in language contact and communication between different signed languages.

He said: “We are proud to be a deaf and BSL-friendly University and are thrilled to be supporting the second annual Edinburgh Deaf Festival. The line-up of performers and events is impressive and we’re excited to be helping to make that talent more accessible to all.”

To be accessible to hearing audiences, signed performances at the Edinburgh Deaf Festival will be accompanied by a spoken English interpretation. Some performances are purely visual, so are accessible to everyone without the need for interpretation.

Highlights of the 2023 Edinburgh Deaf Festival include Oddo the Starless, a stage production by stand-up comedian David Sands; Faslane, an adaptation of an award-winning show that dissects Scotland’s nuclear debate by deaf actor and theatre maker Amy Helena; Fàilte gu BSL (Welcome to BSL), a show exploring the linguistic identities of Gaelic and deafness and a Clowning Workshop with Elf & Duffy – a special workshop to emphasise the power of clowning and mime as a performance tool.

Deaf Action is a deaf-led charity based in Edinburgh, supporting people in Scotland and the South of England.

Philip Gerrard, chief executive of Deaf Action, said: “Our vision is for Edinburgh to have a festival season that offers deaf people the best of both worlds; mainstream festivals which are accessible to the deaf community, plus a week of deaf culturally specific events. Integration alongside a cultural celebration gives the deaf community the opportunity to sample and enjoy the festival season in its entirety.”

Visit the Edinburgh Deaf Festival website for more information or to buy tickets.


Victoria Masterson