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Gibraltar showcased in London public exhibition on deaf awareness

Over half a million people will walk past a photo of local deaf advocate Maite Facio-Beanland in London’s King’s Cross Coal Drops Yard, part of the biggest-ever Deaf Mosaic exhibition which aims to raise awareness.

Deaf Mosaic tells the stories of members of the deaf community via public exhibitions. The aim is to inspire every deaf child to feel they too can fulfil their ambitions.

Mrs Facio-Beanland also appeared in the Deaf Mosaic exhibition in City Lit, London’s largest adult education college, which was attended by the Princess Royal and by Mrs Facio-Beanland herself.

Mrs Facio-Beanland was born in Gibraltar.

“There was – and still is – no deaf school here,” she said in the text accompanying the image.

“So I was educated in Yorkshire.”

“I returned back home at 18 and began to give deaf awareness talks and campaign for more accessible services.”

“I want to make Gibraltar a place where future generations of deaf children can thrive.”

Mrs Facio-Beanland is one of 54 deaf people selected to take part in the exhibition.

Award-winning deaf photographer Stephen Iliffe flew to Gibraltar to capture Mrs Facio-Beanland at the top of the Rock, an image taken by many visitors but never before displayed in such a high-profile exhibition.

"Maite is a superb communicator who has played a key role with supporting deaf and hard of hearing people in Gibraltar and was a major driver behind the passing into law of Gibraltar's own British Sign Language Act (2022),” said Mr Iliffe.

“I'm proud to include Maite in my exhibition as a role model to future generations of deaf children."

As a result of being part of the exhibition, she has been asked a lot of questions from the UK deaf community about Gibraltar and she hopes Gibraltar becomes a more accessible place for the deaf.

“As Stephen said at the opening of the exhibition, ‘I hope this exhibition will serve not only to showcase deaf culture, but also to challenge schools, colleges, universities, employers to see how just minor changes – like providing communication, support or technical aids – can make a huge difference’,” said Mrs Facio-Beanland.

“This has been a rare and great opportunity to showcase Gibraltar and put it on the map with the UK deaf community and UK as a whole, as thousands of people walk by Granary Square, King’s Cross Station every day.”

“I am very grateful to Stephen for doing this,” she added.

She told the Chronicle she was very proud to have been chosen to take part in two such exhibitions, as are her family.

As the daughter of the late Maurice and Ida Stagnetto, she has an abundance of proud family members, including her husband, their two children and their partners.

Mrs Facio-Beanland was born with hearing but, at the age of 14 months, she became very sick and was diagnosed as suffering baby fits.

However, that diagnosis was wrong and she was in fact suffering from meningitis, which ultimately led to her losing her hearing.

At the age of three, her parents noticed something was wrong and they did all they could to get her help.

She and her brother Maurice remember long drives in the car to get to places in Europe such as Germany in a bid to help her.

She was taught to communicate with as many people as possible even before learning sign language.

At the age of 11, she went to school in the UK where she was taught orally throughout the day and, after school, would communicate with her fellow students via British Sign Language.

It was at this school she would meet Emma, who later married Mr Iliffe.

For many years now Mrs Facio-Beanland, together with GHITA, has been working to raise awareness for the deaf and the hard of hearing on the Rock.

She has also championed the use of British Sign Language in order to improve the lives of those living in Gibraltar with this disability.

The King’s Cross Deaf Mosaic exhibition is supported by the Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children and City Lit.

Mrs Facio-Beanland’s image is displayed in Granary Square and the exhibition ends on May 28.

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