British Sign Language in the Art World ~ Edward J Richards, Cutting Edge Design Limited

British Sign Language in the Art World - Credit: Heritage Lottery Fund
Hello! I’m Edward Richards, a Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) user I set up my own graphic design company, specialising in inclusive and accessible communication.

I have used interpreters for about the last 12 years and kept noticing that no matter the agency I used, the level of choice and quality of the service wasn’t to my linking. I therefore decided to begin work on a better system with fair fees and the ability to give me and other Deaf people back the choice and quality we were missing.. bookONE as it’s called will be operating in the near future.

I ‘m proud to say that I was involved in the London Paralympics Opening Ceremony as an aerial performer, for which I trained intensively for 4 months and last nearly 2 stones in weight, most of which has since found its way back to me! I also work as an Arts Presenter for several leading museums and art galleries in London such as Tate Modern and Britain, Royal Academy of Arts and National Gallery.

As a child I loved all aspects of art but never had full access to the information about the subject for which I had so much passion. I later decided to take on formal art training and studied Art at Camberwell and have always had an interest in how art theory can be expressed in my native British Sign Language.

In 2002, I saw a Tate advert looking for deaf people to become BSL gallery guides and applied without a second thought. This was the first training for Deaf people to become Arts presenters undertaken by Tate or anyone else as far as I know. The programme was very positive and since that time I have given talks at Tate Modern and Britain, the Royal Academy and Whitechapel Gallery, amongst others. I now engage deaf audiences with art and culture and am feverishly learning about new collections, works and ways of presenting. I believe passionately that this work brings deaf people back to the arts and I’m proud that I’m involved in training other deaf BSL guides to widen audiences at Tate and other venues across the UK. Last year, I was asked by Tate to set up and project manage their most recent Signing Art course, where I recruited Deaf experts in Art, research and speaking to Deaf audiences. You can find out more information about the work called ‘Project in a Box’ here I will happily help other galleries and museums set up similar projects, just give me a shout and I’ll be there. Since the course, I have assessed skills and mentored graduates in order to maintain quality.

I’m used to operating in peer to peer situations which helps in creating employment for deaf people where society’s record of recruiting Deaf and/or disabled people is extremely poor.

I also advise on Tate’s Access and Advisory Group. For me, I’m there not just to give a Deaf perspective, but to encourage a different way of thinking for all those involved in access to museums and galleries, creating an ethos of equality and inclusivity that encourages respect for Deaf people in all areas and allows for a more positive experience for everyone in this sector!

Royal Shakespeare Company Announces Its First British Sign Language Theatre Tour

The Jew of Malta production photos_ 2015_Photo by Ellie Kurttz - Copyright the Royal Shakespeare Company

The Royal Shakespeare Company, RSC will host its first British Sign Language theatre tour to coincide with the Swan Theatre’s first British Sign Language interpreted show of Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta on September 8.

The Jew of Malta production photos_ 2015_Photo by Ellie Kurttz (C) the Royal Shakespeare Company
The Jew of Malta production photos_ 2015_Photo by Ellie Kurttz (C) the Royal Shakespeare Company

The RSC’s British Sign Language Theatre Tour will give people the chance to learn more about the history behind the RSC’s Swan Theatre, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year, as well as the opportunity to explore a range of wigs and costumes from The Jew of Malta. The one hour tour will be led by British Sign Language interpreter Clare Edwards and theatre goers can also take part in a special interpreted post-show talk on the play. The production which is directed by Justin Audibert centres around religious conflict and revenge, and also features Jasper Britton who plays the complex Machiavellian protagonist Barabas.  

Elizabeth Wainwright, the RSC’s Head of Theatre and Operations, said: “We want everybody to feel welcome in our theatres and to be able to experience our work. Earlier this year we had our first Semi-integrated British Sign Language performance, and I am delighted that we are now offering our first British Sign Language Theatre Tour. To round it off we are also inviting people to stay behind and find out more about the play as part of a free special interpreted post show talk.”

The RSC continues its commitment to Semi-integrated British Sign Language performances with Ella Hickson’s acclaimed re-telling of JM Barrie’s classic children’s story – Wendy and Peter Pan.  The performance, which takes place on 20 January, will see the interpreter up close with the actors in the thick of the action dressed as part of the show. The performance will also be followed by an interpreted post-show talk back.

The RSC also offers an online interpreted synopsis of The Jew of Malta, including the character sign names and details of how to book tickets. Visit


Notes to Editors:
Press release issued: 11 August 2015
For further information, please contact RSC Press and Communications Officer Nurinder Mantell, or call 01789 412657/ 07920 541729.

The Jew of Malta
Swan Theatre: Until September 8, 2015
British Sign language Performance: Tuesday, September 8, 2015, 7.30pm
British Sign Language Theatre Tour: Tuesday, September 8, 2015, 4.45pm – 5.45pm
For tickets visit
For press tickets please contact or call 01789 412660

Wendy and Peter Pan
Royal Shakespeare Theatre: 17 November 2015 – 31 January 2016
Semi-integrated British Sign Language performance: 20 January 2016, 7.15pm, tickets from £16
For press tickets please contact or call 01789 412660

Images for media use
Media can download high res images by registering at


The RSC Literary Department is generously supported by THE DRUE HEINZ TRUST

£5 tickets for 16-25s
The £5 ticket scheme for 16 – 25 year olds gives access to £5 tickets for all RSC productions whether we are performing in Stratford-upon-Avon, London or on tour.  Tickets can be booked in advance on the phone, online or in person with some available for sale on the day of the performance.  The scheme is supported by Project Partner, BP.

The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world.

Everyone at the RSC – from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians – plays a part in creating the world you see on stage. All our productions begin life at our Stratford workshops and theatres and we bring them to the widest possible audience through our touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity. So wherever you experience the RSC, you experience work made in Shakespeare’s home town.

We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre.  We produce an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers.  We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. We reach 450,000 children and young people annually through our education work across the UK, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online.

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