Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Commentary on Sign Language and Accessibility

First of all, I would like to proclaim that I have not reneged on my promises of “transcript coming!” on some vlogs. Transcripts are UP and posted for some vlogs that I updated in hurry without translation. You may go back to them and check out the English words. I work hard to transcribe my vlogs but due to my being in school full time, being active in extracurricular, working a job, and volunteering in spare time... the sad truth is that sometimes time doesn’t permit me to do that for every single vlog. Those are the times when I ask for volunteers to help out. There are still videos left that need to be transcribed.

As I repeatedly emphasized, two-way accessibility is extremely important. If we want to get accessibility in the world, we must open ourselves up to the world as well.

We the deaf consider ourselves a linguistic minority with our sign language. More than anything, our life experience, culture, and barriers are all bound inexorably to language rather than our hearing status. A deaf child who does not have access to proper language acquisition ultimately will not have access to better education and life opportunities. True, I’ll say frankly that I was born profoundly D-E-A-F but I’ll also be the first to tell you that if not for sign language and bilingualism – I would be reduced to something that society would want to “fix.” With the light of sign language, the deaf and the disabled have a formidable weapon against the ideas of eugenics, of a “perfect human race” that isn’t necessary and best left behind with Hitler’s demise.

This blog originally began because I wanted to update my family and friends on what I was doing at Democratic National Convention. Even though I’m proud that many members of my extended family know sign language, some of them do not know sign language. Should they be left out of the loop and be reduced to the same level of frustration looking at my moving hands as deaf people looking at hearing people speak with their soundless lips? No. Because I know far too well the frustration of the lack of accessibility on the internet, I refused to let any one fall victim to this impediment on my own little niche in the internet. No one deserves to be left out.

Quid pro quo. The loose translation for the Latin expression is “you give me something, I give you something.” We give the world accessibility to our community, our language, and our unique perspective. In return, everybody understands more why accessibility is so important for everybody.

From the political perspective: Enough is enough. It’s time for the deaf community to stop being insular and think broadly in making an impact in the world through voting, volunteering, and connecting to our elected leaders. It’s time for the rest of the world to realize that the deaf community has powerful and untapped potential for major grassroots impact. To the politicians- Eleven million. Don’t be ignorant. Win our vote.

And I’d like to give a heartfelt BIG Thank-You to volunteers Victoria Calaman for transcribing the International vlogs and to Raychelle Harris’ interpreting class for transcribing the rest of the vlogs.

VLOGS with transcripts







LaRonda said...

Outstanding post, Barb. One of your best!

~ LaRonda

TheMissingLink said...

I couldn't possibly agree more with this view. I am a CODA and am actively participating in the campaign of my pastor who is running for city council here in the Bronx, NY. I aspire to organize the Deaf community and encourage them to become more actively engaged in the political arena. Do you have any possible resources or networks for me to utilize in order to achieve this common dream?

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