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Local Outrage at Manchester's "Deaf and Dumb" Bar

poster | 25.02.2008 16:30 | Education | Repression | Social Struggles

Information about a protest taking place in Manchester on Thursday 28th February over new "Deaf and Dumb" bar.

The demonstration will be held on Thursday 28th February at 8:30pm, outside “Deaf and Dumb”, Grovesnor Street, Manchester

Local Outrage at new “Deaf and Dumb” Bar

Protesters will be taking to the streets this Thursday to demonstrate against a new Manchester bar, “Deaf and Dumb”. The name has sparked outrage amongst locals due to its use of the term ‘dumb’, an extremely offensive label that dates back to an era when deaf people were considered mentally subnormal.

The bar is situated on Grovesnor Street on the former site of DADI, the “Adult Deaf and Dumb Institute”. The building is grade II listed and is an important part of Manchester’s heritage. Eleanor Bullen, who works with deaf learners said:

“The Deaf community of Manchester have only just found out about this. People are incredibly offended, angry and upset. They can't believe that people can be this insensitive. We will not just take this.”

The bar has already been inundated with complaints via email and their Facebook group. Trof management, who run a chain of Manchester venues, have responded by saying that they are aware of the offensive nature of the phrase however they have chosen to continue with the use of the name, despite growing pressure to do otherwise.

There are concerns over whether the name of the bar violates the Disability Discrimination Act, a law designed to protect customers and employees against discrimination. Protesters are calling for the bar to remove the phrase “Deaf and Dumb” from the bar’s name and all promotional material. Many locals have agreed to boycott the bar until this occurs.

The demonstration will be held on Thursday 28th February at 8:30pm, outside “Deaf and Dumb”, Grovesnor Street



Hide the following 13 comments

Help us out

25.02.2008 20:43

Help the ignorant out here, what is the politically correct term for "deaf and dumb"? You yourself referred to the old use of the building as the "deaf and dumb institute".


It's in the article

26.02.2008 10:33

The right term?

Simply 'Deaf'. You notice the use of the phrase “The Deaf community of Manchester"?

'deaf' (no capitals) refers to the medical condition of deafness e.g. 'He's deaf'. Some people with the medical condition prefer other terms e.g. hard of hearing etc. Hard of hearing is like being short sighted which can be corrected by wearing glasses or hearing aids.

'Deaf' (capitalised) refers to the cultural community of sign language users (which also includes hearing fluent signers, hearing children of deaf parents, etc). It generally doesn't include deaf or hard of hearing non-signers, who are welcome to join it by learning signing (and many do.)

Deaf people aren't dumb, and it's very insulting to refer to us as dumb. Dumb refers both to being stupid, and being incapable of speech or of making any sound. Firstly, we're not stupid, we don't need people making decisions on our behalf, and secondly, most Deaf people have some speech even if it's just yes or no, and all us Deaf people can be damn noisy when needed!


Demo cancelled due to victory!

26.02.2008 11:32

Just to let people know. The management of Trof has had a meeting with members of the local Deaf community where they were able to explain their objection to this name and why it is offensive to Deaf and hard of hearing people. Following the meeting Trof will be changing the name as they now understand why people were so angry about this. So - lets not have the demo after all and go for a drink instead! Hurray.


UPDATE: "Deaf and Dumb" Bar Demonstration

26.02.2008 14:11

I am peased to report that yesterday a meeting was held between representatives of Manchester Deaf Centre and Trof management. The name of the bar was discussed and Trof have agreed to change the name and remove the phrase "deaf and dumb" from promotional material.

The demonstration is no longer necessary as a result although people will be visiting the bar on the opening night to see that Trof has notified customers of the changes. This is a very positive result which has raised Deaf Awareness and helped to change people's attitudes.

I will publish an update shortly.

Best wishes,

Georgina Sullivan
mail e-mail:

Made of Fail

26.02.2008 14:27

The term "dumb" refers to someone who is mute. It is not the same as the place being called the Deaf and Stupid Institute. Your DeafNOTDumb email address is a dead give away that you've missed the point.


oh well

26.02.2008 22:04

Slightly sad that a vulgar and incorrect use of a word has seemingly completely usurped it's original (and quite precise) meaning.

Sadder still that rather than educate people, it seems that the preferred action is just to accept the bastardisation of the language and make the word itself taboo.


Challenge the use of dumb to mean stupid

26.02.2008 22:45

TT commented: "Dumb refers both to being stupid, and being incapable of speech or of making any sound." I agree with Monkeybot that It originally meant mute, so neither was "deaf & dumb" originally a pejorative term, nor is it obvious why anyone would intentionally give a pub a name that they thought was derogatory.

I frequently challenge the disablist use of "dumb" to mean "stupid", just as I challenge the homophobic use of "gay" to mean "useless". It's the use of dumb to mean stupid that should be challenged, not the name of the pub.

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get with the beat, bonzo

27.02.2008 00:38

Yes, the term dumb can mean stupid or mute.

However, D/deaf people may well not be mute - there's a whole range of deafness and ability to speak English contained within the term deaf. Using the term dumb is at worse offensive, and at best confusing and inaccurate. The use of the word to mean mute is not so well known anymore, and whatever the case may be, it is up to Deaf people themselves to decide how they consider the term, not up to us hearing lot. So if Deaf people are offended by the term (or gay, women, BME by other terms...) then we should respect that (& not say "you've missed the point", thus showing ignorance of Deaf history, social models of disability, self-determination etc etc). End of story. To argue any differently is disrespectful and dumb!

PS the pub is in the old Deaf & Dumb Institute (if you'd read the posts properly), hence why they were going to name the pub that; and because something had a name chosen by hearing people a couple of centuries ago, doesn't mean Deaf people should accept it. Doh!

hearing (hopefully not) bonzo


27.02.2008 07:58

But no so 'ignorant of Deaf history' as to erronously state that the term dumb was 'an extremely offensive label that dates back to an era when deaf people were considered mentally subnormal', eh?

But what's historical accuracy when you can print something as incendiary as that?


actually, yes..

27.02.2008 10:14

actually, deaf people were treated as stupid by the 'education' system designed for them at that time. People's common experience now with hearing people is to be treated as stupid too. And even now, with good-ole mainstreaming (not) as the current education fad for Deaf people, the average reading age of deaf people when they leave school is 9.

hearing (hopefully not) bonzo


28.02.2008 09:51

One or two of the posters on this thread remind me of the old bigots who used to write to the papers years ago complaining about the "misappropriation" of the word 'Gay' - 'Oh, what a shame this lovely old English word now has a different meaning' etc. You never heard the same people talking about the "misappropriation" of other old English words, such as 'faggot' or (at the time) 'queer'. Language changes, one only has to look at old 1960's and 70's sit-coms to witness this is relation to what was then acceptable in terms of racial semantics. Most of us have adapted, no matter how confusing it might be on occassions. The use of the word 'dumb' is incorrect, inappropriate, and clearly offensive, so why argue the toss?


Ethics matters not to big brewery businesses!

28.02.2008 17:29

I really think Manchester's capitalist bar owners don't give a damn what the public think, and will appropriate anything for their money-generating devices.

Near the National Express coach station, just past Piccadilly, the first bar you come to is called "CHE" with pseudo-Cuban imagery, plus plenty of avertisements for large capitalistis drinks conglomerates including union-busting and water-depleting Coca Cola and non other than Bacardi, the company who wanted to murder Fidel Castro after the Cuban revolution.

Ethics matters not to the pub and club trade.

Theme Pub Hater

deda s comments on the new bar in manchester named deaf and dumb

18.03.2008 14:43

I have read with interest this article re the new bar named deaf and dumb.I am absolutely stunned that this can happen in this supposed enlightened era.i really feel that i have to respond but what to say i really do not know,its also incerdible that regardless of the offence and also the Deaf history of abuse/opprension and negative stereotyping that the bar will keep this name .surely to goodness this has to contravene the disability rights .
I am very interested in deaf culture and am currently undertaking a BSL leval1 , having just got my certificate for communication and deaf awarness.I hope to carry on with my learning in this area as this is a very big interst for me.
i have recently asked to undertake some voluntary work whilst waiting for paid work within the deaf commnity in manchester and this issue is naturally of great interes to me.i wish you all the best in your fight to combat discrimination .i must keep my eyes open for more information re his appalling situation.unfortunately I missed the demo otherwise i would have liked to join you. Good luck Deirdra Williams

deirdra williams
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