…About That Touching Samsung Deaf Ad…

This ad by Samsung is going viral – I know this because I was sent it by no less than 5 people and whenever I’m sent something by no less than 5 people, something is seriously going VIRAL!

Here it is:

The product itself looks cool and I want to know more about it.

But I was left feeling so sad.

The video is touted as “heartwarming”, mostly I think because so many people gathered to learn sign language for the purpose of creating the ad.

But to me it emphasized how lonely it really is to be deaf in a hearing world, to be deaf in an aural/oral community. For every one of the interactions that the guy in the video had with the people who learned sign for Samsung, he has 10 interactions in real life, where he is left out. Where he has to bend over backwards to figure things out. Where he is struggling. Where he is isolated.

And the thing is, being deaf is largely a non-visible disability.

If you are hearing and actually do know sign language and wanted to talk with a deaf person, how would you know we are deaf? How would you know to sign?

You just don’t know, do you.

I feel like that’s one thing that I wish people would understand about being deaf. How isolating it can be. How videos like this aren’t really touching in the aspect of people coming together to learn some sign for an ad, but how touching it is that this man doesn’t have access to communication and inclusion in the same way that most hearing people take for granted.

Hopefully that product will actually help. Anyone know more about it?

Addendum –

This post just came out and I think it says it all better than mine does – please go over to Ocean’s blog and read her post, “Sorry Samsung, But You Missed the Mark“. It’s brilliant.

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Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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  1. Exactly. Well I have hearing loss and wear a hearing aid but its still not highly visible unless you are right near my right ear. Plus I think it reinforces the stereotype that all deaf people sign. From my knowledge they all don’t. I have hearing loss and know a few random signs and how to fingerspell my name but not much. I hate when people assume I do. But it does seem like a useful product.

  2. I’ve given that ad a lot of thought. On one hand it feels like “oh, look at the poor Deaf man, how nice his neighbors (who were probably paid for the ad…) came out and learned a few words in Turkish Sign Language. Also, I’m jaded enough to think of how Samsung is trying to use this to make people think they’re a fabulous company and want to buy their phones.

    What I *did* like about it, is that it described giving him one day when he can communicate easily and without barriers — and I think most hearing folks don’t get how isolating having limited hearing can be.

  3. I know a few signs, but I’m not fluent in ASL. I’m learning it (self-teaching) mainly out of interest. I think it does some reinforcement of the all deaf people signing stereotype, kind of like how people think anyone Asian-(insert other nationality here) can speak their mother tongue. (I know a few words in Japanese, but I think my pronunciation is bad.) However, I’ll give these people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they couldn’t find a willing lip-reader or they wanted to draw emphasis to the ideas of linguistic barriers in general and not just deafness/limited hearing. I know two other students, both of whom play the flute like me, and they speak English as a second language. (Chinese is their first language.) English is the hardest language to learn if it’s not your native language. (Japanese or Korean is the hardest if you already speak English). I think most English speakers fail to realize how hard it would be for an English language learner in the same way the hearing might not realize barriers faced by the deaf or hard of hearing. The video points this out well, but it may come across as stereotypical, pitiful, and/or tryhard-ish as I think it has to some viewers.

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