Friday, 6 December 2019

Sign language, identity, and assistive technology.


“MIT is the best place to be an anthropologist studying issues of science and technology,
It would help if researchers did not automatically assume the ASL stance as being the same as anti-alleviation or indeed anti- implantation or use of technologies.  Online views mostly are those of activism NOT grassroots.  

If researchers want a topic/theme that tests their researching abilities then try the NON-signing deaf and serious hearing loss areas (The majority who survive without the angst, the culture or the support! and without the need for sign too), how DO they do this?  Anyone can cut and paste online from the usual suspects and get sidetracked with the smoke screen of deprivation, discriminations,  and cultural martyrdom.  This isn't 1880 its 2019.


For an undergraduate research project, Loh merged these two interests — sign language and the Middle East — and received a grant to study the pedagogical structure of a school for the deaf in Jordan, picking up some Jordanian Sign Language in the process to carry out the research. “Sign languages are different in every country,” Loh explains, “because they emerge naturally within communities. 

They develop individually and become different languages, just as spoken languages do. American Sign Language and British Sign Language, for example, are different sign languages even though these signers are all surrounded by English speakers.” Soon, however, Loh began to explore assistive technology and, in particular, cochlear implants. These devices are surgically implanted and bypass the normal acoustic hearing process with electronic signals; these stimulate the auditory nerve to provide a sense of sound to the user. “Implants were controversial within the deaf community in the United States at first,” says Loh, “and still are, to some extent. 

There was a fear of what they would mean for the future of the deaf community. There were scholars who described cochlear implants for the deaf as a form of cultural or linguistic genocide. That sounds like an extreme description, but it really does index the depth of attachment that people have to a sense of themselves as deaf. So, I started thinking about the implications that technology has in the world of the deaf and for their ability to navigate the world.”  

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