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Sensing Helen

Victoria has been pleased to participate in the ‘Sensing Helen’ project which culminated last term with a final round of workshops. The project, which was initiated by artist Tam Gilbert, began after Tam read William Gibson’s book ‘The Miracle Worker’. The book is based on the autobiography of Helen Keller who was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and break through a near complete lack of language to achieve this. Tam wanted to discover more about how visually impaired women were treated in Victorian Dorset and started her research. The aim of the project was to gather and record the histories of women growing up in Victorian Dorset before the time when there was understanding around disability, to collect 10 oral histories from visually impaired women from three local groups run by Dorset Blind Association and to run Creative workshops with  our students and a mainstream school to find out how young people today, who are facing disabling barriers, are learning and discovering accessible ways to communicate.

Tam and her team have made a documentary film exploring what life was like in Victorian Dorset for two young women, Sophia and Elizabeth. Both attended the Bristol School of Industry for the Blind in the 1800s. The film follows their journeys through life, tracking their very different outcomes and making comparisons with the lives of visually impaired women living in Dorset today. If you would like to attend free screenings of this fascinating documentary there is a screening at the Dorset History Centre, Bridport Road, Dorchester, DT1 1RP on the 11th May from 1600 – 1730.

You can read Tam’s latest blog on the project by clicking below.


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