Symbols of Representation | ASL Ponderings


I’m going to try to do this with minimal editing, because I’m on a time crunch and I don’t want to take 500 years doing this post/video. So. Hello and welcome! Today’s another ASL Ponderings. What I want to talk about today is representation of a community.

Now, if you don’t know, lately, there’s been a lot of uproar in the disabled community about a bill that passed the House. It still hasn’t had anything to do with Senate, luckily, and hopefully it never comes to that. But the bill is HR 620. It’s basically a bill that aims to pretty much gut the current ADA laws, and that is a very bad thing. HR 620 will basically make it much more difficult for disabled people to get the accommodations they need. ANY disabled people, including deaf people, so this is really important for everyone. If you want more information, I would suggest you check out ACLU’s article here. I think it’s great that there’s been an upsurge in people showing support, and saying they don’t want HR 620. A good example is Apple. Their App Store recently showcased some apps that are specifically for disability, and supporting people who have disabilities, like screen readers and… I don’t know, I didn’t really look, but I noticed it and thought that was nice. And they had an article talking about what Apple does for their accessibility on their OS and iOS. That was cool. Another example, a friend tagged me in it, I saw it and went that’s great! Elliott Bay shelvesA local bookstore in Seattle, Elliott Bay Book Company (@elliottbaybookco), posted a picture on their Instagram. Thumbs up to them. Queer and disability books, books that are about those topics together. Fantastic. But. I have a problem. First, if you remember, last week, I did a post/video with a shirt that a lot of you people liked, the one below. Just to be clear, I have no problem with this shirt. Now, my problem is with the choice of symbols to represent communities. If you look at the Accessibility shirt, Me access matters.JPGit shows a wheelchair for wheelchair users. A blind person with a cane and a service dog. A brain to show the neurodiverse community, with autism, Down’s syndrome, mental illness, etc. And then what they use to represent the deaf community is the symbol and sign for “interpret.” The reason I have no issue with this shirt is because it’s specifically talking about “accessibility matters.” accessmatters.jpegNow, let’s go back to Elliott Bay. That picture shows the “interpret” symbol. I have a problem with that, because in this situation, you’re talking about queerness and disability. The disability specifically, not accessibility. So in my head, this is the wrong symbol to use. I think what should be used instead is the hands signing, shown below. It’s showing more focus on the general use of hands, not [interpret]. icon sign.pngBecause the “interpret” symbol is more specifically about accessibility, not about language, about sign. I know that [sign] doesn’t represent everyone in the deaf community. Neither does [interpret]. This is why I have a problem with the [interpret] symbols. [Interpret] focuses on the need to have accommodations, while [sign] doesn’t necessarily. It focuses more on the cultural aspect of being deaf. Talking about oral deaf people here: I think [sign] still focuses more on the cultural aspect, because if you don’t sign, you do still sometimes need accommodations. But generally, people that I know who don’t sign usually don’t request for accommodations. Therefore, it means they usually won’t have interpreters. [Interpret] doesn’t represent them either. So there’s no one perfect symbol for the entire deaf community.

hearing loss.png

AND for the love of god, PLEASE do not use the “hearing loss” symbol to represent the deaf community. NO. That just puts the focus on the “broken,” the “missing,” the “lack of.” Don’t. Many of us don’t view ourselves that way. So… Don’t. Just don’t. Just…no. [Sign] focuses more on our language, our culture, who we are as a people, not what we’re losing.


So… I just wanted to get that off my chest. I’m curious, what do you think of this? Do you agree? Do you not? It’s okay if you don’t agree! Let me know what you think, how this should be approached. And… I guess that’s all for today.

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Published by Rogan Shannon

Hello there! I'm Rogan, a queer deaf guy who has a passion for leadership and advocacy. I create YouTube videos about a lot of different topics - being deaf, queer, reading, language, and whatever else interests me!

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