Auslan at Byron Writers Festival

Byron Writers Festival has committed to great Auslan access at this year's festival. We caught up with Festival Administrator Emily Brugman to find out more.


How will Auslan Interpreting be incorporated into this year's Byron Writers Festival?

Four sessions from the main program will be interpreted each day of the Festival - these sessions are clearly marked in the festival program. We have attempted to select a range of sessions exploring themes from politics to social issues, memoir and technological innovation. These sessions were chosen in consultation with Sigrid MacDonald, our Deaf contact at Ability Links/Social Futures in Ballina. 

Floating Auslan interpreters will also be available at the Festival site on an as-needs basis. If a patron requires an Auslan interpreter, they should look out for the Auslan symbol in the printed program, or go to the Information Tent at the Festival site (also marked with the Auslan symbol) to book an on-demand interpreter for a session of their choosing.


Has Auslan interpreting been a feature of the festival in the past?

Yes, it has been part of the Festival for the last few years, but this is the first year we have made more of concerted effort to get the message out to Deaf patrons. We have partnered with Social Futures to make a short interpreted video detailing the Festival and explaining how Auslan will be incorporated this year. 



Do you have any Deaf or hard of hearing participants at this year's festival?

This year Jessica White will be attending the Festival as a writer. As a Deaf author and scholar, Jessica has written extensively on deafness and disability. Her newest book is Hearing Maud, a hybrid memoir which details the entwinement of her life with that of Maud Praed, the Deaf daughter of 19th Century Queensland novelist Rosa Praed.


What is the best way for members of the Deaf and hard of hearing community to book Auslan accessible tickets?

Sessions from the main program at Byron Writers Festival are not sold separately. It’s a bit like a music festival – you buy your pass, and get a wristband at the gate. Once inside the Festival site, you are free to wander between six stages throughout the day, where sessions run concurrently. All marquees at the main Festival will have accessible seats in the front row reserved for people requiring Auslan interpretation. Three Satellite events at Byron Theatre on Friday (2 August) and Saturday (3 August) night will also be interpreted. Anyone wishing to attend who needs Auslan interpretation will need to email us when booking (info@byronwritersfestival.com) so that we can reserve seats up front. 


In what other ways are you promoting Deaf/hard of hearing accessibility at this year's festival?

This year, we have a videographer and Deaf interviewer who will be catching up with Deaf festival-goers (with their permission) to film vox-pops of their experiences at the Festival. We hope this will help us to promote Auslan at Byron Writers Festival in future years, and help get the message of inclusivity out to the Deaf community. 


Why is accessibility important to Byron Writers Festival?

We are continually aiming to improve access to Byron Writers Festival and enhance the experience of patrons of all abilities. Our mission is to create shared moments of human connection through the exchange of ideas and the adventure of storytelling – of course the Deaf community should have a chance to share in these experiences. 


Do you think Deaf accessibility should be a part of every Writers Festival?



Byron Writers Festival runs from 2-4 August. To view the Festival Program or to buy tickets, visit byronwritersfestival.com

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