News update, June 2018

Mick Barber (1935-2017)

It is our sad duty to report that one of mbdsa's staunchest supporters and most generous benefactors died on  20 October 2017 at the age of 82. Mick's links with Russian Deaf people go back to the 1970s. When the Moscow Bilingual Deaf School opened in 1992, and the mbdsa support group was formed in 1994, Mick immediately pledged his support, both moral and financial. Over the years his donations have ensured that both the School and, latterly, the Zaitseva Centre for Deaf Studies and Deaf Education have been able to realise many of their objectives. Mick,and his wife Carol, also gave practical support when a group of Deaf specialists visited BDA HQ in Carlisle. One of the party, the late Galina Zaitseva, expressed a wish to visit Scotland, which she had read about but never seen. Mick and Carol duly took the party on a sightseeing trip over the border to Gretna and beyond.

The Cumbria Deaf Association have posted an obituary of Mick at

The Mick Barber Bequest

Although Mick, sadly, is no longer with us, his legacy remains. In his will he left a generous sum to mbdsa. We felt it would be best spent on a project, or projects, which benefit, directly or indirectly, Russian Deaf children. If you have any such project in mind, or know anyone who has, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. At this stage a brief outline will suffice.

New Website for School 65

School 65, which is where the Bilingual Deaf School started, now has a new Head, Svetlana Iosifovna Perepelkina, and a new website . You will find pictures of the school, its staff and pupils and, for Russian speakers, there is information about its activities. As always, we will translate free of charge any parts non-speakers of Russian feel might interest them.

We have just heard that Year 1 bilingual classes are restarting in the school. The initiative came from a former pupil at the school Lena Lapenkova, whose son is due to start there in September. There are still some hurdles to overcome, but the prospects are good. The plan has the enthusiastic support of one of the former teachers of the Biligual group, Vika Tomson.

The Zaitseva Deaf Centre (

The dispute between the owners of the building, the Association of Deaf Artists, and the local authority, reported on by us in December, has now – after three court cases – been resolved in favour of the former. This has enabled the Centre to be refurbished. The new website is run by a volunteer, Slava Yasin, with whom we hope to have an interview in the next update.

The Yelets project

Yelets is a  town in the Lipetsk region of Central Russia, best known for its association with Ivan Bunin, the first Russian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. It has no teachers of RSL; to fill this gap the Centre has embarked on an eighth month project to teach RSL to 22 hearing people. A new member of the teaching team is our former pupil, Dasha Semyonova, who has given up her work as a dental technician to focus on teaching RSL.

Dasha and Lena are also involved in the project to teach RSL to a group of Deaf students (all female). The course is organised jointly with MGLU (Moscow Linguistic University) and entails 300 hours teaching, up to BA level.

The Russian Language Club

This is a new venture aimed principally at Deaf schoolchildren, but with participants of all ages, which looks at written/spoken Russian and RSL. Anna and ex-students of the Centre have led the sessions, which have gone very well

Future Plans

Anna is negotiating with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Welfare for sponsorship of an online course for families with small (0-3 years) Deaf children. Agreement has been reached in principle but the money has not yet been forthcoming.


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