Tuesday, June 17, 2008

People like My Mother Could Not Be a Part of the DeafVillage.com

Both DeafRead (DR) and DeafVillage (DV) are providing as blog aggregators. In America, having two or more competitive products are considered healthy and more likely to improve the quality. Yes, the style is different and so is the policy. Most of them get to accept blogs and vlogs that are Deaf related; however, what strikes me the most about DV is that this certain guideline is so different.
To me, I feel that the DV is like this:
(moving the curtain halfway) "hey you are welcome, come on and join us" they say...
Actually, they are welcoming the vloggers halfway. They said that they accept a diversity of bloggers and vloggers regardless of their communication background just like DR.
Why did I say "halfway"? Because it required ASL vloggers to provide transcripts and captions and only some of us can do that. I tend to provide transcripts and it is not a problem for me but I have to speak for this certain group of vloggers like my Deaf mother. She grew up orally and did not have a strong language foundation including ASL that she had to deal with the struggle to comprehend a subject or a topic until she finally learned ASL later on in life. Unfortunately, for her to obtain strong literacy skills were a bit too late. She had been publishing her ASL vlog from time to time and now I am disturbed with the fact that she cannot enter DV because it is required for her to WRITE. She is not a strong writer (she can write sentences) but understands print English. However, when it comes to written English, it is a bit different than reading. To express in writing is too difficult that she often asks for feedback and I do help her sometimes. But for her to feel free to express (with this rigid guideline) is not possible.
DV is not really keeping their curtains wide open to welcome and embrace the walks of life so unlike DR who really keeps it wide open that it doesn't require to write transcripts/captions for ASL vloggers. Naturally, DR has their policy that any blogs that are affiliated to companies (except for Sprint who is the sponsor) to market their product a bit too often is not allowed which is understandable and makes sense. Nevertheless, I just want to focus on this policy that FORCES ASL vloggers to provide written materials and it actually does prevent them to be a part of DV. Not all of the ASL vloggers feel comfortable with English that they had struggled all of their lives and for them to be rejected from DV is not right.
My mother would never be a part of DV and I would not either because I felt that this certain group has been discriminated and I, in no way, would support DV. I feel that the expectations for ASL vloggers is too much of a burden and let me tell you several reasons that the policy to enforce vloggers to provide transcripts/captions are not reasonable.
1. English is not some of the ASL vloggers' strength just like ASL is not some of the bloggers' strength. These bloggers already have an option as opposed to these ASL vloggers. ASL vloggers are stuck and that they are not always strong bilingual users just like those who are fluent in English are not able to express in ASL. What should you do about those who are not strong bilingual users? The bloggers can still get their blogs published in DV and the ASL vloggers can't so what is fair? Now you want access and that you may not understand ASL vloggers, I do understand the problem for this group. It is like catch-22. This group cannot express in writing the way they want to so what is fair? You accept diversity? Let me challenge the quote,"Deaf Village accepts diversity." I want to see where is that part of the group is able to express in their own language without any restrictions. Now DV may say, "Oh no, we don't intend to reject this group of ASL vloggers because we want to have access". I understand that but still it is a huge conflict.
(text: #1. Not all ASL vloggers, especially those who were former orals and did not grow up with ASL, have English proficiency. For those who are not fluent in ASL have more privileges to publish their blogs since translation in ASL is not required.)
2. Translations from ASL to English takes much longer time than from spoken English (including Cued speech) to text (i.e. captions). It is much easier for non-ASL users to translate that it takes much less time than ASL users.
(text: #2. It is a daunting, time-consuming task to translate from ASL to English. To translate from spoken English to captions/transcripts is much easier than from ASL to text.
3. ASL vloggers are finally able to enjoy to watch a video without captions. To have captions in ASL vlogs is distracting and that English distorts the true message of ASL users. There is no enjoyment in viewing ASL vlogs with captions for some.
(text: #3. It has been long overdue for Deaf viewers to enjoy ASL vlogs without captions since it is a distraction to them.)
4. There are times when ASL messages don't go well when translating into English. For example, there are ASL idioms (see video for sign demonstration) that may be difficult to translate into English although the attempts are there but it would never be accurate. It is indeed awkward to translate from ASL to English especially when it is in a simultaneous form. To provide transcripts may be better but still challenging (it already took me an hour to type this so far!). (text: #4. To translate word for word from ASL is not always accurate.)
You need to understand what is reasonable. Do you think this policy is an act of suppression of this group of ASL vloggers?
(text: Suppression occurs when an individual or group tries to directly or indirectly censor that oppresses the other party.)
That is why I cannot participate and support DeafVillage.com because they don't recognize a group of ASL vloggers who are not fluent in English and that they are rejected. I will not support DV until they remove this policy. Diversity? Let me see the proooooffff (in slow motion)!
Sorry, no youtube yet but it will be posted later on tonight. If you have difficulty viewing the video, please download quicktime.