Blog: What Does Inclusive Mean To Me?

The comments on my previous blog, “Us, Exploited? You, Ignorant!” and the response towards the term “inclusiveness” has rocked the Deaf v/blogsphere and DeafRead. This has shown that this is an important time to shed light on accessibility and inclusiveness of the Deaf communities.

Previously, Carl Schroeder, a frequent v/blogger had submitted a vlog about how vlogging should remain a sub-title free and transcripts made up in short summaries. It created an outcry, especially from me, when Carl mentioned that DeafBlind people should retrieve someone to copy the ASL vlogs if we wanted to know more through summaries, as well as pointing out that the people on other blogs were “exploiting” the DeafBlind by using us an excuse to force others to subtitle or transcript.

My temper flared, I don’t deny that. I’m a passionate woman who feels strongly when the DeafBlind community has their name thrown around by people who simply JUST DO NOT UNDERSTAND. That includes SIGHTED vbloggers, people out there, hearing people, stereotypes and Deaf people (as much as it pains me).


I try not to “speak” for everyone in my DB community, after all, I believe strongly that they ALL have a voice of their own… yet, there are few DBies out there who are pushing against the tired old Helen Keller stereotype compared to roughly 80% of the DB community that is either hidden, scared, passive, isolated, unindependent, or raised orally. I have met these people throughout the last 4 years of my membership in the DB community – a variety of people who range by their vision loss, education, ability to be independent, active in organizations, homemakers, factory workers, the sick and the isolated.


Did you know that a high percent of the DB community in the States do not own a computer? They still own a Braille-TTY made by Supercom but gee whiz the number of Deaf people with VPs are soaring in popularity and very few have the common sense to keep their TTYs regardless (911 anyone?). Too many states do not have to comply with the ADA to hand over money to DB services because the 1990 ADA does not focus primarily on deaf-blind – mostly focusing on DEAF AND THE HEARING BLIND. So, from Coco’s guess, a very large percent of DeafBlind visitors to your websites have Usher’s & some vision left and highly active/involved in the Deaf community. Make sense?


Usher Syndrome people usually range in vision – from a good field to being only able to read font size 75. We want the same thing: to be able to get “in tune” with our first and foremost community and appreciate Deafhood through ASL. Vlogs have become entertainment for us, believe it. It is such a WONDERFUL thing to happen to our Deaf community. That’s the Deaf pride in me. I vlog and want to vlog a thousand more times. Documenting the beauty of ASL through convenience and worldwide is so much more impacting (AGBell is pissin’ in their pants now).


But you see… vlogging has no rules, no holds barred. Vloggers can wear striped shirts and allow “eye-noise” backgrounds to be seen on the vlog. Some webcams have low quality, making signs blurry. A person with good sight could attempt to understand 80 percent of it – while for us with low vision could experience frustration so early on and give up. That happened to me sometimes and I feel so sad. I feel further away from my first and foremost community.


Carl mentioned summaries, brief ones of the vlog, no matter how long it was. It reminds me of holiday dinners at my aunt’s home in Casselman, Ontario. There’d be 60 relatives sitting around a long, rectangular table and yammering away. My aunt and my Dad are the only ones in my family to know sign language. If I wanted to talk to my Uncle Greg on the end of the table, I would tell something funny to my Dad and he’d shout out , “Tina says…”. Whenever I see a large group of relatives laughing about something, I ask Dad or Auntie L. what they were saying.

“Oh… (two sentences), so funny”.

Don’t you hate summaries from hearing people who tire of repeating every word, sentence? ASL does not have to be repeated word for word but come on, ASL does not equate to three words for a 2 minute story.

Vlogging can be accommodated with transcripts. If people prefer, they can subtitle too. Notice I said too?

Subtitles can be a choice – no one should “force” the other vloggers to subtitle their vlogs, however, it takes a few minutes to do it yourself or find someone who can. Someone mentioned that video screens also have the option to get subtitles on or off. That’s a good option for people who simply want to watch the whole ASL thing without “noises”.

Transcripts, or “long summaries” can be read in Braille format, meaning fully blind people could have a gist of what is going on in the vlog. People who do not sign and have this desire to see into our world can have the accessibility to understand. Two birds with one stone.


This issue of accessibility through the v/blogsphere is becoming radical – and I hope that this has provoked people to really discuss the topic at heart – how can we involve our blind brothers and sisters?


Right now, I am working on a guideline for v/blogging, and asking my blind bros n’ sisters to help me out…. Ella Mae Lentz, you still interested in this partnership?


The dream that one day we will be at par with our sighted bros and sisters shall become reality… it just has to.


Tactile love,

Coco xoxo

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12 Responses to Blog: What Does Inclusive Mean To Me?

  1. Beautifully written! As a PhD student I rely heavily on book reviews to find books I need to support my findings for dissertation. Yes, I must admit there exist some badly written reviews but good reviews tend to prevail. Coco, we all are human beings and we don’t deserve negative remarks, right! Thank you!

  2. kmayes says:

    I see that we all have our own definition of what inclusive means. But thank you for making us aware of deafblind people and of the needs of DB. I am sorry to see that some people fail to notice the needs of DB and that the DB population could contribute a LOT to DeafRead and the deaf community outside of DeafRead.

    Thank you for speaking up.

  3. Bryen says:

    Since we’re talking about variations here, I’d like to add some insight about those of us who have Ushers, especially me.

    One of the drawbacks with vlogging is that the picture isn’t perfectly clear. The fps (frames per second) are not exactly the same as the human eye. When you hear that an Usher person has 20% vision, that doesn’t mean that the 20% is clear.

    Because of the narrowed field of vision, I’m often found taking a moment to analyze what I’m seeing before my brain registers it… “Oh that’s a (whatever.)”

    So, big screen, small screen, it doesn’t matter because the brain still needs time to process what it sees. Remember, our vision loss is affected in the retina where cells are dying. That retina is what translates sights and colors, etc. into signals sent to the brain.

    Because not all cells are there anymore, and some of those cells are only half functioning, the brain has to say “Hmm… what am I looking at?”

    I, as well as many others, am not convinced that subtitling is the way to go. But transcribing definitely is an excellent alternative.

    Coco mentions a great example of what I call the “Never Mind Syndrome” that all of us have experienced when we ask a hearing person “What did she say?” and are told “Never mind” or given a very brief summary. In my opinion, a summary is a disservice, not only to the DeafBlind viewer, but also to the content creators. It’s a no-win situation.

    The time of inclusion is now. I see on other sites, vloggers saying that time is of the essence and they’ll pull us in later. I say phooey to that idea. As a Deaf person, I didn’t like it when Hearing people did that, and as a DeafBlind person, I certainly don’t like it when Deaf people do that.

    But more importantly, now is the time to debate, not the validity of such technology, but HOW such technology can be improved. Most of the technology we are all using v/blog is based on open-source software, which is built by a community, not by some big corporation.

    I’m an active member of the open-source community focused on accessibility topics in Linux and openSUSE specifically. There’s some amazing community development going on these days in the open-source world that will benefit all of us.

    For example, did you know that the upcoming FireFox 3.0 will be highly accessible to Blind people using braille and screenreaders?

    So what is our time to be used for now? Not for debating the validity of the technology, but how it can be made BETTER for all of us. There’s people out there developing software listening and waiting to hear more input so they can develop even better software.

    Who knows, maybe someday, there will be software that will automatically read ASL videos and translate it into text. You never know. We certainly didn’t see the technology 20 years ago that we are living in now.

    So let’s move forward, and like Coco says… Let’s be inclusive. Don’t repeat the same mistakes Hearing people made with the Deaf people that Deaf people might be making with the DeafBlind people. I am Deaf first and Blind second.

  4. Steve says:

    Can you asked the Espn, Cnn, Yahoo,etc. to add their subtitles on their video? They need to be screaming at not us. I did send to them about subtitles and no repsonse from them! Ignorance! We would love to but didn’t expect to add the subtitles which we have time? I wondered if you ever complained against blog that write so small letters instead of bold words to read? Hope they have some respect to add subtitles if not then don’t scream!

  5. White Ghost says:

    To be frank with you about his 1st comment in this blog, I think Carl Schroeder is having either dyslexia or flop-flip. He still don’t get it about the supporting system that the Deafblind community do not have.

    I was piqued what Carl stated in his recent vlog, “ASL is clean and pure.” I want to make a point is that Carl expects the Deafblind people to sign clean and pure in ASL, however, they cannot see us signing. Deafblind people cannot rely on the FARTHER vision that we sign standardly.

    Carl claims that he heavily rely on the books for his dissertation without the supporting system, i.e. interpreting system for the classes.

  6. kmayes says:

    ASL is not pure… every language is touched and influenced by other languages. If you look up in the dictionary, you’d find roots of all words , where they originated, and how it evolved over centuries… explaining the history of the words. Fascinating.

  7. valerie says:

    I really enjoy your postings. I am still struggling with all this negative comments against captions. I am just shocked over it. And thank you for making me aware of this and how a simple the solution is.

  8. Rusty_Coyote says:

    I’m also a DB individual. I have several Vlogs on YouTube and have provided a link where I’ve transcribed them. Sure transcription takes time to do but I treat people the way I’d want to be treated. Heck, if more people treated others the way they wanted to be treated it’d be a much more empathic world.

  9. Davy says:

    I like you Coco and Iam sure we all work it out on the highway road to be together as Brother and Sister …..right on Coco. I am giving you support and all of us should to learn respect each other in need our heart warming care.


  10. Concerned for you says:

    We love you, CoCo. We won’t treat you like the
    children of a lesser God. Write to Ella. She’s
    dedicated to Deafhood, including DB.


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