When ASL Products are Made & Sold By Non-Deaf, Does it Hurt the Deaf Community?

I didn’t know what else to title this post, but I did want to have it out there and talk about it with you, if possible.

Watch this:

This stumps me a little.

I mean, on one hand, I’m really thrilled when I see products like the ASL “kind” shirt being sold at huge retailers like Target. I liked seeing the ILY in the Women’s March. I like seeing anything and everything that I can about my people and Deaf culture.

But is it really fair, as this woman is saying, for hearing people without regard to ASL, to be profiting from all that these signs mean?

It reminds me of rastafarian stuff, Jamaican colors – how misrepresented they often are, used and profited upon by people who have nothing to do with what they really mean to those who believe or are a part of that culture.

Which gives me pause – is ASL and the ILY sign becoming simply trendy to people with no connection to us? The piece about the donation to Deaf Women United being dramatically less than ACLU or PP is valid; the very sign that they are using to promote the campaign is a symbol for a struggle of the Deaf, which makes their use of it reek of appropriation.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Meriah
Meriah Nichols is teacher and artist who lives in a yurt off the grid. She is deaf, has 3 kids (one with Down syndrome) and a lot of chickens. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done. She likes her tea Earl Grey and hot.
Meriah

@meriahnichols

#deaf mom, teacher & #disability activist, living in a yurt #offthegrid. 3 kids (1 with #downsyndrome), a camera and a lot of chickens. Never a dull moment
I swear, Apple didn't pay me to pull this together (wish they did though!) https://t.co/ZBEWBkk4FP - 2 hours ago
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1 Comment

  • I always use the ILY symbol with my children, for what I believe it stands for, ‘I love you’. I was unaware that it stands for something different in the Deaf community. As a person who is not deaf, I appreciate the attention the video brings to how some businesses/people exploit disabilities for self profit. I will ask questions those questions mentioned in the video the next time I make such a purchase. Thanks for the insight.

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