Merging Worlds

Do you understand what they are saying? No? How about this next one?

Not an avid user of American Sign Language (ASL)? One more to test your eyes?

These are the struggles the Deaf Community works with every day. The world is changing more rapidly than ever and as words enter our vocabulary in the English language through the Oxford English Dictionary, they too must enter all languages, including ASL. So while terms like Photobomb, Emoji, and Selfie (did you get those right?) are added to our written English language, ASL has had a much harder time coming to a consensus as there is no standard governing body. With the dictionary, the meanings were debated, argued over, and eventually put into use (much to the chagrin of grandparents around the country), but the Deaf Community still works to come to a consensus, as we can plainly see by the two variants we just looked at.

One such company – Lifeprint – is out to help. Bill Vicars, the president and CEO explains that when coming to a consensus, they first do a literature review, then a poll of a dozen or so adults. The last state is where Lifeprint comes into play. He explains

The last stage is to post the sign online to my website where it is exposed to the scrutiny of thousands of individuals – many of whom then email me and tell me their version is better.

So my question to you is this – could Social Media help unify the Deaf Community on how to use particular signs a bit faster? How about a few gifs thrown out on Twitter with some votes? Could a campaign with #SMHforASL unify that? Let’s try one more and see if you can guess what it means!

Get that one? More importantly, does one RESONATE with you more than the other? I instantly understood that the girl on the left was signing for a Screenshot, but did not with the man on the right, was that the same for you? If you want to test your recognition on a few more “modern” words, check out the rest of the article.


This entry was posted in Crowdsourcing, Innovation, Psychology, Social Change, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Merging Worlds

  1. sydhavely says:

    Pretty darn clever blog post, Seth. for a second, I thought you got Matthew to act in your post.

  2. I think deaf culture and its ties to language and communication are fascinating… What a cool piece on how social media factors in!

    • Seth Rochlin says:

      Totally agree, always been fascinated with non-auditory language — pictures, signs, etc … good to know someone else agrees!

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