Deafblind Network of Ontario hosted the 18th Deafblind International World Conference in Ottawa on July 24-28. Photographer Sarah Bradley of Ottawa’s iShootEvents shares her experience from the conference.
I had the pleasure and the honour of “shooting” the Deafblind International World Conference in Ottawa, Canada. I have photographed many large conferences, but this one really touched me.
When “shooting” events my goal is to capture the overall event including guests in posed, candid & engaging shots in a photo-journalistic manner. Telling the story of the event through my photos.
My first interaction with the delegates was at a social evening. I did my usual thing: posed group shots; candid shots of people laughing and enjoying themselves; photographing speakers as well as the entertainment. It didn’t take me long to realize this was going to be a different conference.
Over the next few days, I witnessed the incredible bond between individuals with deafblindness (interesting to note that MS Word underlines this as a spelling mistake!) and their translators (which I now know are called intervenors). I was absolutely mesmerized. I watched 2 people with deafblindness engaged in a conversation together using tactile signing (something I have never heard of – google it!). There was another very inspiring lady with deafblindness in a wheelchair who had one intervenor tactile signing while another touched her back in various ways to communicate what was happening in the room; whether it be laughter or applause.
My photography style quickly changed to include capturing that bond by focusing on the hands.
By day 5 I felt like a part of this very tight, loving, supportive community. In fact, I was very emotional knowing it was coming to an end. I have a newfound awareness of the deaf, the blind, but especially the deafblind.
With much love;
Sarah the photographer who is 5’3 with dark blonde hair and green eyes.
Special shoutout to Bettyanne Sherrer from CanPlan Event & Conference Services for introducing me to this inspiring community.