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General Brewster

On deaf people.

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On deaf people,

So I know this title is somewhat controversial perhaps. I mean what could could come from an opinion peace titled "on deaf people"? I don't blame you. I assure you though that it won't be bad, or at least it wont be for me. So my woman's father and brother are both deaf. Both from birth although her father now uses a Cochlear Implant. So you might imagine that after a year and spending some decent amount of time together with her family I've learned a thing or two about deafness in general. My woman is of course fluent in sign language and I must say, as someone with somewhat impaired finer motor skills I now too can say a couple of sentences.

So what really grinds my gears(insert meme) is that people always seem to think; "If there's no sign language translator available on TV the subtitles will do..." Well yes and no... What people seem to always forget is that deaf people their first language is sign language. Considering I'm a Dutch national that would mean a Deaf/hearing impaired person would have NGT(Nederlandse Gebarentaal - Dutch Sign Language) as their mother tongue and not Dutch. The gammer of NGT/DSL significantly differs with that of the Dutch Language. Couple that with the fact that a large portion of understanding and feeling with language comes from the ability to hear it. You might imagine that it's relatively hard for a deaf/hearing impaired person to learn a secondary language.

So next time when you think of saying "yeah but it has subtitles so they don't need a translator" you will know that it isn't as black and white as it sounds. Now I'm not saying none of them can read but it is a challenge for a of of them. Having said that the USA has excellent services in place for it's deaf community. There's even sign interpreters at some festivals... Something we can learn something from over here. Last night new was brought out that during emergency pres conferences sign interpreters would finally be utilized. Much too late if you ask me!

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed the read .

Updated June 17, 2019 at 03:53 PM by General Brewster

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  1. Dismounted Feudal Knight's Avatar
    Purely for the sake of being contrarian and adding a discussion element to this article, I would argue that while one shouldn't straight up omit a sign language translator if they have the reasonable means to throw it in (particularly if the content is designed for a deaf audience), it is economically far more feasible and more universally functional to opt for subtitles over a form of sign language if it is a matter of choosing one or the other or the resources to implement both. It is far easier for content producers to assemble, and I would further argue (purely in the context of the internet) that someone who is deaf and navigating the internet will already be exposed to so much text (essential to daily operation I would think) would have a sufficient grasp on the language in question for subtitles to be effective in the majority of cases. This excludes content specifically tailored to deaf people and does not account for resources outside of the internet.

    On the grounds which I speak for, I thus cannot see any reason to be irritated by people who consider subtitles to be enough when a majority of what is produced these days is bound to time constraints and the need to simply strike the intended audience as effectively as possible without painstakingly accommodating for the vast spectrum of disabilities that exist. Whenever possible it is prudent to consider them of course, but unless there is a trump card to this - say, a sign language translator that can be implemented into almost every medium that this post may encompass - it is something that people would, I believe reasonably, not consider to be worth their time. Again, for better or worse, operating on the internet depends on the ability to read a form of language such as this, not on having things tailor made for sign language and other elements that would probably help other groups (such as the near-blind with high contrast controls built into sites - there's articles out there which bemoan the state of the internet as far as accommodating this). Sound is not required for text to make people feel in connection to visuals. It may take a bit of effort and sloppy subtitles won't do a great job, but it is entirely plausible, and more to the point, the common creator will have their jobs far simpler by leaning on the most common ground available to humanity. That common ground by and large is a written language, not a form of sign language.
  2. General Brewster's Avatar
    I think that either I am misunderstanding you or you misunderstanding me. I was in no way talking about the internet. I was talking about television and that alone. I understand your argument about the internet though. The other side is that my father in law does not use the internet widely and when he does it takes him about half an hour to read an article you and me take 5 minutes to finish.

    The main thing I was aiming on is that on is that people wrongly assume that subtitles are a valid/good alternative to a sign interpreter. This might be a little abstract as I don't know what the situation is in different countries but I know that the services in The Netherlands are abysmal. An entire group of people is left outside information streams. There's one edition of the news a day that has a sign interpreter. Which airs at 0900, a time even deaf people are expected to be at their work. Now of course you can use replay TV but still. You are at a severe disadvantage in your ability to acquire News only because you were born with something you didn't chose.

    On March 18th there was an attack in the city of Utrecht. A gunman opened up in a tram. All manners of alerts were sent out, pres conferences were held(without sign interpreter) and people were told to stay indoors. Deaf people did not know that and were outside because the alerts was not in a language that they could understand (sufficiently). If that is not plain wrong I don't know what is.

    Interesting article, if you translate this with Google Translate I suppose it's rather readable for you
  3. Dismounted Feudal Knight's Avatar
    Yes, there was definately a communication error - the post did not specify context, so I was forced to assume and defend for the sake of the one closest to the medium. On television, it makes a great deal more sense, since TV watchers aren't necessarily an audience that correlates with internet goers, and thus they are not a crowd that I would declare should be able to do just fine. So, in the context you've intended (perhaps clarified in the OP?), yes, I do quite agree with you. The internet has the convenience of being a static resource that nine times out of ten can be paused or simply rewatched/reread, while TV simply doesn't give a second chance and should be able to express as clearly to as many people as possible. I couldn't comment on the necessity and ease of doing that in your community, so I will take it for granted and say yes, the automatic assumption is unreasonable unless they've built a solid case for why or why not.

    For emergencies as per your example, accessibility is even more critical. If there is a decent portion of the population that will be affected, then they should be considered.
  4. General Brewster's Avatar
    My bad then mate! But glad we share the same conclusion if I may put it as such.
  5. Dismounted Feudal Knight's Avatar
    No problem, I'm just a critic >.>

    In any case, yes, I believe we walk along similar lines with the matter you were trying to drive at.