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.