On Twitter, I often get this question:
subtitles are available and why not use them? The reason some people are asking because they do not understand the benefit of having an American Sign Language interpreter to be available at the live event, on videos, etc.
Are they ignorant? I would say yes, but I don’t want to start off on this blog post with negativity.
Some people do not know and this is the reason why I am loud on this topic regarding accessibility for the deaf community.
It is true that not all deaf people know sign language for many different reasons. I’m not going to expand on that because I want to focus on why having an American Sign Language interpreter is important to deaf people who use them.
Audio vs. Visual
Let start off with audiobooks, music, Twitter Space, ClubHouse, and any form of audio medium that a hearing person uses daily. You as a hearing person will enjoy those mediums. Why? It is because you can hear. You grew up hearing voices, music, etc. You are comfortable with those rather than reading text such as books and subtitles. Hold that thought.
I am deaf and I use my own eyes, my whole world is based on visuals. The first thing I see is my parents holding me and they probably do not know how they can communicate with me. Actually, they found out that I’m deaf later on when I don’t react to sounds. My mom decided to meet other parents who have deaf children and decided to learn sign language because it is a visual form of communication and also, a language for me.
Now, release your thought and think of not able to hear and being forced to read subtitles without a sign language interpreter. Which do you prefer?
Subtitles or Sign Language?
Of course, it’s language preference. Most of us would prefer to choose our own native language over secondary. It is because we are comfortable with it. My native language is sign language and for hearing people, their native language is spoken language. They would prefer to listen rather than read. It’s often the same as writing a language, most of us would prefer to speak or sign.
I resorted to reading and writing when I want to communicate with others who do not know sign language. I live in a big world where the majority of people do not know sign language. I have to read and write every day in my life. I can’t imagine a day without reading or writing. But if you are hearing, you can imagine that because you can just turn on the radio and listen. You can speak to the majority of people in your area, but not me.
This might not be a well-structured blog post but keep in mind that American Sign Language is a natural language. It is visual and different from English. Some signs do not have a specific English word for them.
A common example:
English: I am going to the store. ASL: store me go.
I am only using 3 signs along with the movement to show that I am going to the store.
Also, American Sign Language is a rich visual language that involved hand shapes, facial expressions, movement, body language, and gestures.
If you are curious about American Sign Language, this is a very good YouTube channel to check out.
Thank you for your time to read and learn about this topic.