Competition encourages young deaf people’s ideas on future deafness research

Published: Wed Jan 14 2009

The leading charity Deafness Research UK has announced a national competition for young deaf people to put forward their ideas about where research into deafness should head over the next twenty years. Organised in association with the Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre, the ‘It’s my future’ competition is open to entries from two age groups: 12-14 year olds and 15-19 year olds. The competition organisers are looking for original ideas and seeking young people’s opinions on topics such as whether doctors in 2019 will be able to grow replacement parts for ears, whether there will be new or different ways to communicate in BSL (British Sign Language) and the future of cochlear implants.

Deafness Research UK is the country’s medical charity for deaf and hard of hearing people. Vivienne Michael, Chief Executive of Deafness Research UK, said: "Young deaf people are rarely consulted about where they think deafness related research should be focused in the future and what they want from it. We hope that the competition will become an annual event giving young deaf people a unique opportunity to tell us what they think. Because Deafness Research UK has access to some of the best deafness research scientists in the world and is actively looking for funding into key deafness related areas, there is a real chance that some of the ideas suggested by the young deaf community will become a reality and in the long-term will have a direct and positive effect for deaf people."

DCAL is based at University College London (UCL) and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Professor Gary Morgan of DCAL said: "Researchers at DCAL are excited that the 'It’s my future' competition will be running again in 2009 and that this year Deafness Research UK is taking the lead in this collaboration after the success in 2008.
As a judge I look forward to reading the 2009 entries which I’m sure will have the same high standard of invention and imagination as those we received last year."

Young people who want to take part need to write a short piece (up to 300 words or 1 minute of video in BSL) on what researchers should do to improve life for deaf people by 2019 or even 2029.

The competition will be judged by a panel of deaf and hearing experts in deafness and hearing research. One of the judges, Dr Lisa Nolan of the UCL Ear Institute, said: "I’m honoured to be a judge for the ‘It’s my future’ competition. Working as a scientist in the hearing research field and being hearing impaired myself, I am only too aware of how progress in scientific research has the potential to improve the life of someone who is hearing impaired. So I think this competition is a great way to raise awareness in general and understand what deaf young people want from future hearing research".

The first prize in each group is £100, with runners up prizes of £50. This year the competition is also open to young hearing people with deaf family or friends. The prize is £50 for the best entry in each age group.

Prizes will be awarded at a ceremony at the House of Commons during Deaf Awareness Week, on 5 May 2009 hosted by Malcolm Bruce MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness.

Malcolm Bruce MP said: "I’m delighted once again to be on the panel of judges for ‘It’s my future’. Last year’s competition was a great success and it is very important to continue finding out what young deaf people think about the future of research that directly affects them. Their input will help to guide the direction of this research."

Entries are via the website at Winning entries will be published on the website. The deadline for entries is Friday 6 March 2009. ENDS

Notes to editors
About Deafness Research UK
• Deafness Research UK is the country’s only charity dedicated to finding new cures, treatments and technologies for deaf, hard of hearing and other hearing impaired people
• The charity supports high quality medical research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all forms of hearing impairment including tinnitus
• The Deafness Research UK Information Service provides free information and advice based on the latest scientific evidence and informed by leading experts. The Information Service can be contacted on Freephone 0808 808 2222
• For more information on research into deafness, tinnitus and other hearing conditions, log on to the website at where you can access a wide range of information. Alternatively you can e-mail Deafness Research UK at
• One in seven people in the UK – almost nine million people - suffer hearing loss
• Deafness Research UK was founded in 1985 by Lord (Jack) and Lady Ashley of Stoke
• In January 2008, Action for Tinnitus Research (ATR) was linked with Deafness Research UK under a uniting direction order under section 96(6) of the Charities Act 1993
• Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre is based at University College London. DCAL is a world renowned centre of excellence for research on BSL. The centre brings together leading Deaf and hearing researchers in the fields of sign linguistics, psychology, and neuroscience. DCAL is funded by The Economic Social Research Council (ESRC)
• The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research, data resources and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It supports independent, high quality research which impacts on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2008/09 is £203 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes
• The competition judges are: Malcolm Bruce MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness, Ms Vivienne Michael, Chief Executive of Deafness Research UK, Professor Gary Morgan, Co- Director at DCAL and Dr Lisa Nolan, holder of the Haigh Fellowship in Age-Related Deafness at the University College London Ear Institute

Press enquiries
Deafness Research UK
Jon Gardner. Mobile 07930 697773. Direct line 0114 275 6996. e-mail:
Liz Daone on 07808 957 414 or at
Ref: DRUK0101 – It’s My Future 2009
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