With more videos of signd videos on social media than ever before, it has helped to spread awareness and the beauty of sign language.
But with more hearing people creating signed videos too, is this a positive thing or is there a dark side to it?
As much as we would like to see more awareness of sign language, there has been arguments that the increase number of hearing people creating videos of themselves signing could be detrimental to the Deaf community. Or are we reading too much into it?
You can listen to the podcast…:
…watch the video…:
…or read the transcript below.
Social media has helped to spread awareness of different people signing in different languages.
And I think it’s great. It’s great for that reason alone, awareness.
We need more people to access it. More people to see it in all its glory and all its beauty.
Even for me sometimes, I love watching different people from different parts of the worlds, signing in different sign languages.
For me, as someone who is learning BSL, British Sign Language, it’s motivating, it’s inspiring, it encourages me to get better at it. And to make sure that I do it so that I can connect with more people.
Because that’s ultimately why I want to learn BSL, amongst other reasons, but I want to connect with more Deaf people.
But I have noticed that there has been an influx of hearing people signing as well. And I first thought, “great, we need more people to have access to the language”, and if hearing people are learning sign languages and showing it to the world, and all these things, I thought that’s great because we need that.
But then is there a dark side to it? Because there have been a bit of accusations and confusion, especially in the Deaf community about cultural appropriation and whether it’s a good thing or not.
Now, personally I can’t speak on behalf of every single deaf person. If we’re going to be technical about it, really, I’m not Deaf or hearing, if you’re going to be like that.
I’m in that middle bit, that weird awkward bit, where I’m just “not deaf enough” or “hearing enough”, and I’m in that middle bit. But the advantage of that is that I have an understanding of both worlds. I have a connection to both worlds.
So, I might be able to offer my own opinion and my own thoughts about the topic on whether hearing people, should they or should they not do sign videos at all?
What is your intention?
Personally, it should depend on your overall intention.
If your intention is to get as many engagements as possible on your social media, the likes, the comments, the share, the followers, if that’s your main intention on creating videos of yourself signing then that’s not a good intention.
If anything, that will be the wrong reason to learn sign language.
And it’s kind of insulting in a way, that you’re taking advantage of a language for your own personal benefit.
Think about it. You’re taking a language that is a crucial part of a person’s everyday life. It’s a culture, it’s a passion, it’s a very, very personal thing for every single Deaf person who speaks sign language every single day and that’s their main way of communicating.
And if you’re using it for your personal benefit, then that would be seen as an insult, because you’re not using it for its main benefit, which is to communicate. Which is to communicate with Deaf people. Which is, if you’re hearing, which is to bridge that gap between the hearing and the d/Deaf worlds, and make sure that there are less barriers and more inclusiveness in the world.
And this is what I’m seeing more and more of that people are creating these videos only for the engagement, only for that followers, the like, the share, the retweets, all these things and that is not the way you should go about it. Which is that more and more people want to jump on that bandwagon. More and more people want to do the same thing to help with their social media.
And the danger of that on top of it is that, you’re on course to spread the wrong information to more people.
And in a time where social media has played a part in the world to maybe spread the wrong information, you can do that as well. If you are not fluent. If you are not qualified. If you have not grown up with the language.
And if you’re using sign language to help with your social media and it’s actually not correct, it’s not accurate, it’s not got correct grammar and vocabulary, if you’re doing that then you are risking making things worse for the Deaf people, in terms of all the barriers that exist, you could actually build that wall even higher, because information could be incorrect and you’re spreading it even further.
But if you have other intentions that could be okay as well. For example, my intention is when I created a few videos of myself signing, is that I’m learning.
And I have mentioned that, and I’m using these videos as an accountability to practice, to see it, all these things. That is my intention. I’m not doing it for anything else than that.
Have you stated your intention on your videos?
And here’s one thing that you need to be really careful about, is to mention what are your intentions. Because if you are educating, then first of all you need to be qualified, fluent, all these things.
But also, if you are learning yourself, you need to mention that as much as time as possible. I’m not doing it to educate the audience. I’m not doing it to help you. It’s just for my own personal benefit. And that’s it. That’s why I’m doing it. But I specifically mention that.
So if your intention, whatever that may be, if they are good intentions, like you are educating or you’re learning, then you have to mention that in the description somewhere. Just so you are clear in your caption, in your video itself there. People need to see that is why you are doing it.
But if you don’t do that and you’re just doing it for social media and all these things, you need to question why are you learning a sign language in the first place and think about what is the overall purpose of learning?
It’s not there for our entertainment. Sign language is not for entertainment. It’s not for an “inspiration porn”.
It’s not something that should be seen as like a glamour thing. It’s a serious topic. It’s an important topic. It’s an important subject for millions of people around the world. And we should be treating it like that as well, myself included.
I cannot say that I’m perfect. But I want to make sure that I do it justice by learning it from the right people and connecting with more people.
Let’s credit the real deaf artists
And at the same time, I want to make sure that all of us give credit to the talented Deaf artists out there. In this case, for example creating music videos. Let’s give kudos to them. They are those who have that talent.
Just like we all admire people with talent in music or sports and we aspire like them or we admire them or we applaud them and we share their content to everyone else, we should be doing that to the deaf artists as well, out there.
A couple of my favourites are Signkid and Velma Jackson, at least in the UK.
These two are amazing artists who sign music videos and they have their own way of doing it. They have a very expressive, emotive and also entertaining way of doing it and it’s so admirable. It’s so amazing to watch them in a way I can only dream of signing like that.
But, that is their talent and I massively appreciate that and respect that. You should check it out, I put a couple of their videos below:
You can check out those two alone, but I’m sure there are so many more even outside of UK.
If you know more, let me know in the comments and I would love to see them because I would love to see more Deaf artists using sign language to express themselves, to show their talent, to show their art, and all these things.
Just like we see in any industry, whether you are hearing or not.
You can disagree but you can’t attack
Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, regardless of whether you feel like people should be signing or not, or whether you want to listen to me or not, there is one important point that I have to make which is crucial for everyone around the world.
If you don’t agree with what the other person is doing it doesn’t give you the right to mock them, to insult them, to abuse them, just like nobody has the right to do that to you as well.
This is something that I see a lot on social media and unfortunately, it’s becoming the “norm”. I feel like it’s normal to see that and it shouldn’t be, but nobody should do that.
Nobody should have the right to do that to other people, and nobody deserves to receive that either.
In most situations, education is the solution but it’s not just about education it’s about how you educate other people as well. Because enforcing, and pushing it, and really ramming it home in people’s faces, that’s not going to work.
You just have to look at it in your own situation, if people force information on you, are you going to take it on board or not?
But it’s all about finding the best way to educate other people because that would make it more effective. If you want to get your message heard you have to find the best way to educate other people.
And yes, there will be other people who will be ignorant, they will not want to listen to you, and they just have their own world and their own bubble.
There will be people like that and I can understand that, but we just have to rise above them and educate people the right way, and educate people in a way that will get that message heard.
Because like I said, if you enforce it, it’s not going to work. If it doesn’t work in you, why would it work in other people?
If you think you know more about the topic than the other person, I get it. That’s totally fine. People know more about me than a lot of things and I will appreciate that.
But again, it’s how you deliver that message that will make sure it is heard, not ignored, not pushed away, because you don’t want that at the end of the day. I would love to know what you think.
It’s a very sensitive topic sometimes for some people, but I understand why on one hand in the d/Deaf world why seeing this way, and in the hearing world seeing this way, but the whole point is by talking about it, debating it, educating people, that’s what we need to do.
So, I would love to know your opinion. Share your thoughts in a comment, because even for me, I’m learning as well. I’m not going to claim that I know everything, but I would love to know your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below.
In the meantime, I hope to speak to you again soon.