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Holy devoted: how Ramon is bringing communities together

Deaf film-maker Ramon Woolfe tells SHARON BARNARD about the online devotional resource that is bringing the deaf and hearing communities together ...

Deaf film-maker Ramon Woolfe tells SHARON BARNARD about the online devotional resource that is bringing the deaf and hearing communities together

It was through landing a feature role with the BBC at the age of 15 that Ramon knew the media industry was for him.

Then, the boy who had always dreamed of working with visual media was cast in the blockbuster The Beach and “whisked away to Thailand” for filming.

“Upon my return I decided to establish my own media company and, in partnership with Mark Nelson, Remark! was born,” explains Ramon, who is also a qualified translator and registered with the World Federation of the Deaf as an International Sign Language interpreter.

The pair had many successful years together before Ramon relocated to the South West with his family. He’s now branched out on his own with Drip Media and created a number of broadcast programmes for the BSLBT Sign Zone.

As a deaf person, Ramon uses British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate.

“BSL is a visual language which is not based on the grammatical structure of English,” he explains. “It is a culturally rich, visually expressive language with its own nuances.

“Those in the deaf community who use BSL as their first language appreciate the beauty of the language and the additional complexities it can bring to the original English text.”

It was while battling cancer a few years ago that he was inspired by the American Deaf Missions’ Daily Devotions. He started the website BSL Daily Devotions to provide signed devotions for the benefit of the deaf community in the UK.

“I have received positive feedback from all over the world,” says Ramon. “It is incredibly popular in both New Zealand and Australia as their sign languages are similar to BSL.”

There are now more than 1,300 members of the BSL Daily Devotions Facebook group with many others accessing them directly. In addition, a number of deaf churches bring members together to watch them in group meetings.

“The devotions’ reach doesn’t stop at the deaf community,” says Ramon. “A growing number of hearing people who are learning sign language have started to use them as a tool to inspire them to communicate with deaf members of their congregation, bringing the two communities together.”

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