There are so many barriers that we could focus on when it comes to deaf awareness.
But since it’s Deaf Awareness Week in the UK (as of 4th-10th May 2020), there is one particular topic that I wanted to focus in light of it being a popular trend.
This particular trend, perhaps because we are all on lockdown and looking for something to do, is more focused around the rise of sign-song videos or sign language videos, where the creators took the liberty of sharing what they know, only for it to be incorrect, which can result in major consequences for those who depend on sign language: deaf people.
You can watch the video…:
…listen to the podcast…:
…or read the transcript below.
This week in the UK, between the 4th of May and 10th of May 2020, it’s Deaf Awareness Week. Frankly it should be Deaf Awareness Week every week because of all the barriers that exist but let’s just go with it.
If you check out the social media for #DeafAwarenessWeek or #DeafAwarenessWeek2020 you’ll see lots of content, lots of information and I encourage you to go through
it. It’s quite interesting, even for me to look at everything that’s been created to raise awareness of deaf awareness.
There are so many things that we need to work on, whether it’s myself or for you or for all of us together, whether your hearing or d/Deaf, hard of hearing, everyone can play a part.
And there are so many things we can do to improve deaf awareness but I just thought in this video, I want to focus on the one thing, and the one thing that I want to focus on for Deaf Awareness Week 2020 to make a big difference.
Because there are so many things but let’s just focus on that one thing.
The one thing that I want to focus on, on this Deaf Awareness Week is to be considerate when you are either teaching sign language or teaching some kind of sign-song to people if you are not an expert, if you are not qualified, if you are not fluent in sign language.
Be aware, be considerate when you’re doing that. Especially to those who are unsuspecting and they enjoy your content and they soak it in, they learn from you.
If you are one of those people who are doing that and you are considered to be a beginner, you’re learner, you are doing it for fun and you want to teach people sign language when you are not fluent, you’re not qualified…I think we should really step back and really think about what you’re doing, why you’re doing this.
And get this I’m not a person who even knows how to speak sign language fluently. That’s not me. It doesn’t affect me directly, maybe indirectly, but I’m doing this because I think it’s an important topic and it seems to be a trend right now.
And maybe it’s because the world is currently on lockdown and people want something to do, whether you want to learn something new that’s great, I approve that, I encourage that you want to make use of your time, go for it.
And for a lot of people, they want to learn sign language again, awesome that’s what I’m doing as well and I encourage people to do the same thing
But, it’s a completely different situation when you give the impression that you are an expert on sign language. Especially it seems to be for those who are hearing but that might not only apply to hearing it could be me as well.
I have absolutely no intention to do it and I have no right to do it, to teach people how to sign a few words here and there or even teach people in general. I’ve got no right to do that because I’m not qualified and I’m not fluent.
Frankly there’re people who are much much much better than me at that and that applies to a person like yourself. If you’re someone who is not fluent or qualified and you’re teaching sign language or you’re doing sign-song and you want to push that out there and you want people to be aware of it then, let’s stop and think about it for a second. Before I go into a bit more detail.
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Nobody can be an expert at anything just from learning a few videos, watching a few videos or going through some courses or picking up a few things for a few hours a week and that’s it. You can’t be an expert at doing that.
But it seems to be a thing right now that people learn a few signs and then they put it all together and then you can teach people and then you can do sign-songs as well.
This is a very dangerous thing to do because you are at the risk of spreading the wrong information about something that is incredibly important for those who depend on sign language.
And if you spread the wrong information, it will create that barrier, it will push it away even more and it will make them even more of a minority group with less equal rights, less opportunity because of the risk of spreading the wrong information.
You can’t be an expert just from watching a few YouTube videos. That’s like me learning how to cook a few recipes from Jamie Oliver and then I decide to open a restaurant.
Not going to work.
You can’t be an expert if you don’t have qualifications either. That’s like me watching a few documentaries featuring David Attenborough and then I call myself a marine biologist.
You can’t honestly say that you are the best person for the job. That’s like me saying…you get the point I’m not going to keep giving more metaphors, you get the point. It takes so much more than just a few conversations, a few videos, a few courses and a few interactions with d/Deaf people to be an expert at the topic.
And that’s the thing it’s not just about sign language it’s a lot more than just sign language. It’s a whole culture that has to be behind it, the connection and it’s the reason behind it.
I’ve done a video about this: What is your intention of doing it? What is your intention?
If you’re learning and if you want to experiment with it and you tell people that you’re learning, you’re not doing it for exposure or you want money or anything like that, you’re doing it for a separate reason that is personal to you fine, that is okay.
I’m sure a lot of people would accept that if you’re upfront about it and you do that.
But if your intention is for example to do all these feel good factors of getting the likes and the retweets and the shares all these social media engagements that we all love and crave
If that’s your intention, then that’s not the right intention of doing this
If your intention is that you seriously seriously care about deaf awareness, you care about the community, you care about the culture, you care about all these things, if that’s your intention you want to focus on that then there are ways of doing it but if that is still your intention then that’s the better way of looking at it.
You can’t have both.
You can’t have craving and desire that I only want to do for the multiple retweets and shares but I also want to do it for deaf awareness as well. It doesn’t go hand-in-hand together.
It can work if you focus more on deaf awareness and then the by-product is that it gets more popular because you talk about a topic very passionately, it’s important and you share the right information, that could work.
But if you end up sharing information that is wrong, you exclude people, d/Deaf people and not listen to them and you push out your content anyway because you think that it will get a lot of engagement on social media then that is definitely the wrong way of going about it.
And it’s a shame that you have to do it that way because you can get an element of both in some way but if you just focus on social media then you have to question your intention of doing this. It is a shame that it’s something I have to talk about because even though it doesn’t affect me directly, I know it affects other people and I had to see that in them.
And it’s something that is an an ongoing thing, it’s been going for years but it’s something that is happened a lot right now, which is very appropriate for me to talk about it this week in this Deaf Awareness Week 2020, and that’s why I want to talk about this topic.
So, my advice for you is to ultimately, to be considerate and be open minded and listen to d/Deaf people. It’s not a hard thing to do. There are cases where people are not doing that and go about pushing information out anyway, without even being considerate about the consequences of their actions.
You can have a major major negative consequence on people that you don’t see around you if you spread the wrong information and that applies to everything in life not just about deaf awareness.
At the end of the day there are people who knows more than you just like in any topic there are things that people know more than me.
Even deaf awareness, there are certain things that other people would know more about than me, and that’s okay.
Ultimately though the main thing is, I want to listen to them that’s the bare minimum that I want to do. If I listen to them, I learn from them then I will respect their opinion and I take it onboard.
And then I use that to my advantage by saying you know what, this is a way of doing it, this is a way of doing it, jut like how right now, even though I’m not a sign language speaker, it’s not something that is going to affect me directly but I’ve learned from other people why it’s a bad thing.
And that’s why I want to relay that information to you.
I hope that makes sense, let me know if it doesn’t if you have any questions let me know in the comment.
Don’t forget I go in a bit more detail on my Patreon where I share a bit more personal thoughts around this topic. But also some examples of things that I’ve seen online and what not to do in all these things.
So again check it out in the description the link to my Patreon page.
In the meantime though make sure you subscribe, make sure you like and in the meantime, I will speak to you again soon.