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2011 census, my take

I'm told its silly season out there re picking up on the 2011 census, and who gets credit. My take: who bloody cares. Its done, just everyone else pull their finger out and campaign for something. Reminds me of other campaigns that take place, and just watching everyone jump on a bandwagon as time moves forward.

The need for accurate figures has been around for years, and something I got into back in 2000 through writing the BSL recognition policy document for FDP. Sat in some pub Islington with Doug (Alker), and we discussed figures and the census. How the census could be a by product of recognition (as many other things), and how there was a need for some decent figures. In the following year, someone works at the National Statistics Office, had warned me about how early questions gets decided thus 2001 was definitely out. I then made a conscious decision to watch this one. Within the Deaf community, people moaned but little action taken.

Away from this, I had been involved with family history research, and naturally taken a keen interest in census returns. Over the last year I have transcribed census returns from 1841 to 1901, in a parish spanning 8 miles by 3 miles, for a one parish study I'm co-ordinating. That's 566 documents of data, and RSI and very sore eyes at the end of it. Through my own family history research, where I've discovered half my family was "Deaf and Dumb", via census returns, something previously unknown to me. (This was a standard question from 1851 to 1901). Too many questions came out of this discovery, re how my ancestors communicated, and who to. In all this, my appreciation and importance of national records grew, and the deep desire to make it applicable to modern times. No such clues were visible via census returns now, and became increasingly frustrated over this.

It was via family history I got the wind of the practicalities of consultation time frame for the 2011 census, and via family history received notification of last year's consultation (even though the need for BSL to be included in census returns had been recommended prior to this). I subsequently posted this on Deaf UK, some 20 months ago. Had I not been involved with family history, and being able to overlap two areas, it would have been a bit more difficult.

Interests can influence each other. This doesn't only have benefits for those who use BSL, but for future family historians. They will get to learn about how their ancestors spent their time, and what language was used.

There's people out there with many interests, and with these interests they can bring skills that can be utilised in other circles, and of mutual benefit. I wish more time was spent merging and transferring these skills, with a vision to do so, instead of doing a lot of banging on a drum and generally complaining.

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