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

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

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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.

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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a cat-loving Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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AP Themes - The Interpretive Task - Creative ASL Teaching

Sunday 14th of April 2019

[…] products made by hearing people hurting the Deaf community? Ask your students. This video can help get that conversation […]

Carmen

Saturday 25th of March 2017

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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