For people raised in America, English is the most common language spoken, with Spanish leading closely behind. Most Americans usually speak one or both languages in their lifetime. But what about those in the United States who are hard-of-hearing or deaf? We should be implementing the same resources in our schools for ASL, or American Sign Language, classes as we are for English and Spanish classes. Why don’t the majority of Americans know American Sign Language, especially since one in twenty Americans are either deaf or hard-of-hearing?
In some schools American Sign Language is an option for students as a second language course, but that is not the case for a majority of the country. If we are to ever be an all-inclusive society, we must take into account our disabled brothers and sisters and accommodate to them like how they have accommodated to us by learning how to lipread. We live in what is supposed to be the greatest country in the world, in the 21st century. Why aren’t all of our people’s needs, specifically hard-of-hearing and deaf people, met? What can we do to help cultivate a change?
Over the past few years through social media, especially YouTube, users who create videos have started to put captions not only in English but also in a multitude of other languages to assist both the hard-of-hearing/deaf community as well as international viewers. The simple act of transcribing text from video means a lot to a plethora of people. Also, that means that the YouTuber’s channel is more user friendly and accessible to more people, which ultimately equates to more views. This is a win-win situation for the content creators and their viewers.
In addition, there has been a rise in ASL signing videos to songs. Most recently, Twitter user @saturnsfroot signed to Ariana Grande’s first number one single , “thank u, next”, which subsequently went viral and was even acknowledged by Nyle DiMarco, a prominent deaf model and philanthropist. I think that it is through these sorts of videos that we can increase the popularity and usage of ASL throughout the nation. In addition, because the video was shared on a social media platform, different people from various backgrounds who might not be aware of the deaf community and ASL have now gained positive exposure to it.
Because social media is so important to young people, we see an increased awareness in a plethora of social issues, like racism and mental illness. The hard-of-hearing and deaf community deserve to be acknowledged like other marginalized communities. In the United States’ Constitution, it says that in order to form a more perfect union, something we should do as a people is promote the general welfare. We can promote the general welfare by promoting those who create content for those who can hear and those who cannot.