WHO WE ARE
HANDS UP is an all year round, interactive exhibition that takes visitors on a gentle, exciting and humorous journey into the world of silence. This journey explores the beauty of Sign Language and the practice of non-verbal communication. The aim of the journey is to reduce the fear of contact with Deaf people and to build bridges between the world of the hearing and the Deaf. HANDS UP stands for respect, diversity and inclusion in society.
What is life like when you are Deaf? How does Sign Language work? How do Deaf people perceive music? All this and much more can be experienced at HANDS UP – Experience Silence.
The exhibition is a project of equalizent – Training and Consulting Ltd, located in the Schottenstift (Scots Abbey), it shares premises in a 700-year old cellar vault with Dialog im Dunkeln (Dialogue in the Dark).
During your visit to the exhibition rooms – alone or guided by Deaf guides – you are insulated from the world of sound using earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones. Interacting with your guide or your fellow visitors, you quickly learn how much you can understand or explain without using your voice: face, body and hands take over communication. Facial Expressions, Body language, Sign Language, Every Day Life, Culture and Music: visitors experience the different areas of the exhibition with humour.
In Austria, there are about 10,000 people who are Deaf and up to 400,000 people who are hard of hearing, late deafened or hearing impaired. HANDS UP gives insights into what Deaf people have achieved, but also demonstrates how society makes things difficult for them.
“When hearing people realise that I’m Deaf, they usually look up in panic.”
Alicia Eliskases, GUIDE
Often, it is just about gaining in confidence. A visit to our exhibition can encourage that. “Whether children or adults, everyone is always amazed and excited when they see that communication works with a bit of imagination and goodwill.” (Alicia Eliskases, HANDS UP Guide)
We want to build on our visitor’s enthusiasm to enable us to break down barriers in the minds of hearing people. The exhibition ensures greater visibility of the Deaf community. “That’s why the exhibition features a section on famous Deaf people, as well as the history and culture of the Deaf.” (Alicia Eliskases, HANDS UP Guide)
The choice of location, in the most beautiful historical cellar vault in Vienna together with partner Dialogue in the Dark, was deliberate, bringing two exhibitions on the topic of sensory disability together in one place. Employees of Dialogue in the Dark also handle bookings for HANDS UP. The rooms in the basement of the Schottenstift always have a pleasant temperature and provide a good opportunity to escape the heat in summer and the icy wind in winter.
„It was a very successful and Inspiring tour. Funny and interesting at the same time, as well as very informative.“
Jennifer W., Facebook
Companies, stakeholders from a variety of sectors including culture, social, business, industry and politics, schools, universities and educational institutes, as well private persons and tourists.
- The exhibition is well suited for school classes, promoting social and communicative skills.
- For companies, we recommend visiting the exhibition as a teambuilding activity. We have put together special team building packages that promote cohesion and cooperation amongst company employees.
- We also offer company celebrations (such as Christmas parties) which can be combined with a visit to the exhibition
- International guests to Vienna find HANDS UP the perfect way to immerse themselves in a different culture and at the same time, visit the historic cellar vaults of the Schottenstift. All exhibits and video clips are translated into English.
We recommend that groups book a guided tour. There are special discounts for schools and universities. It is not necessary to have Sign Language skills prior to the tour, but visitors can be sure of being able to manage a handful of Signs after their visit.
„And even if you are only half as enthusiastic about the beauty of Sign Language as we are, then equalizent also offers you the opportunity to attend a course in Austrian Sign Language.“
Monika Haider, equalizent CEO
Austrian Sign Language: With this, Monika Haider clears up a common misconception of hearing people: Sign language is not international. Every country has its own sign language and there are even regional dialects, just as there are in spoken languages!