Name: Clark Denmark (academic)
Course: MA (by Research) in Sign Language and Deaf Studies
UCLan lecturer Clark Denmark is celebrating his own graduation from the University, despite working in higher education himself for most of his working life.
58 year-old Clark has been at the heart of Deaf Studies and British Sign Language (BSL) teaching and learning, both nationally and internationally for over 30 years and joined the team at UCLan in 2007.
Clark, who works in the University’s School of Education and Social Science, said: “It was knowledge and experience that led me into teaching. Many years ago deafness was a barrier to further and higher education and it was very, very unusual for deaf people to be able to access higher education.”
Clark has now graduated with an MA (by Research) in Sign Language and Deaf Studies. His Masters focused on a bespoke online platform for deaf signers in India. He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed it and am absolutely delighted to graduate. It has been a long time coming!”
Born and educated in Scotland, Clark’s early working life was as a computer programmer, which continues to influence his work to this day. His first involvement with BSL teaching and research came as Research Assistant to the Edinburgh BSL Research Project from 1980 to 1985. He was then instrumental in helping to develop Durham University's ground-breaking sign language training course which provided the first formal qualification for teachers of BSL in the UK. Later, whilst Director of Education and Training at the British Deaf Association (BDA) he was responsible for introducing a number of innovative and much needed training opportunities for deaf people and those who work with them.
When the University of Bristol's Centre for Deaf Studies established Britain's first degree in Deaf Studies in 1992, Clark was a natural choice to join the teaching staff. Over the next 15 years, Clark taught sign language, sign language teaching, deaf history and deaf politics. In 2004 he was seconded to the BDA's 'BSL Tuition in Deaf People's Hands' project before moving to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in 2007.
As a member of the BSL and Deaf Studies team at UCLan, Clark has continued to be a major contributor to BSL and Deaf Studies teaching and research. He has been a key member of the BSL:QED project, which established the first national curriculum for teaching BSL in universities, as well as various European partnership projects such as Signs2Go. This project drew on Clark's IT and BSL background to develop innovative internet-based resources for teaching BSL to international deaf people.
He still travels home to Bristol at weekends but was joined at his graduation ceremony in July by his wife Carolyn, sister Catherine, brother-in-law Ken and step-daughter Tanya.