Coming to terms with being human.



Last week I read a story about a talking glove. It is a mixture of cloth and circuitry, reminiscent of the Nintendo Power Glove, that translates American Sign Language (ASL) into both voice and text.
It wasn’t the glove but the response to the glove that caught my attention. Certain members of the deaf community are against the development of this kind of technology. They view the creation of such “crutches” as an assault on deafness. Perhaps they would liken it to offering skin lightening treatments to people with the intent of “assisting” them in a white majority country.
Now, I don’t see this as an issue. ASL is a language. The glove is a translator, no different from a computer that translates Mandarin to Spanish. We don’t view translators as an affront to the dignity of Mandarin speakers. The language glove shouldn’t be offensive either.
I was first introduced to the concept of a Deaf Culture by the documentary, Sound and Fury. In it, two deaf parents decide whether to allow their daughter, also deaf, to receive a device that could give her the ability to hear. They really struggled with the decision. Watching made me struggle too. What is more important, hearing or self acceptance? Is changing an inborn characteristic a violation of personal authenticity? Watch the film and think about it.


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