ASL – a language all its own

12 Sep

I heard something last week while listening to Spark (on CBC radio) that created a shift in perspective. I love that!

American Sign Language (ASL) is not the same as English. Which means that often the literacy rates of people who are fluent in ASL is low.

Wait, what?!

If you are having the same reaction as me, it’s likely because, like me, you use your ears to understand language.

ASL is a language. That wasn’t news to me. But what was news was that it’s not “English in sign”. Not really. The sentence structure etc. is different. Which means that reading English is a bit like reading a different language.

So what?

It means that while I thought my website was accessible for those who use ASL because it’s written, it turns out it may actually be inaccessible for that reason!

The solution?

Check this out: Nora Young’s guest was George Schinarakis. He is the Project Manager at Deaf Youth Empowerment. He is working to change this inaccessibility by helping to create video for websites. Brilliant! And now that you’ve read it, probably obvious. Of course! You may be saying. A video! Of someone signing what your website says.

Remember, like any other language, it won’t be a word-for-word translation. But the message will be clear for someone who is hearing impaired, rather than the written text, which may not be, due to the prevalence of the aforementioned low literacy levels (which is another issue which the education system must to take on).

So simple.
Another example of not seeing what doesn’t impact us.
And suddenly the web seems a little less accessible. I wonder what the AODA has to say about this?

See more.


Want a challenge?

Check out my Inclusion Insight for this week on this topic:

Your inclusion challenge for this week is to pay attention to how much writing there is in your day, and consider what it would be like to find it challenging to read. How would that impact you?

To sign up to receive the weekly Inclusion Insight in your inbox, including the Inclusion Challenge, click here.

Copyright 2016 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Facilitator, and Consultant on issues of Diversity & Inclusion




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