I just wanted to say thanks for your insights. Sometimes people become so passionate with their own projects that they forget that sometimes the ideas are so foreign to others that they canít even begin to grasp why others arenít passionate about it as well. That means we do say certain things that arenít entirely correct which can be misunderstood by the very people that we would like to work with, and thereby turning them off. I am sure that everyone has been at fault with this. I know that I have. In fact, I am guessing that I will do that even again during this email, but know that isnít my intention.
Having said that, I just wanted to say that my overall goal is that people realize that sign languages can be written. But even more than that, that sign languages ARE written languages. I would love to be able to meet any Deaf Joe on the street and have them accept that ASL is written. The reality of the fact is that I know that wonít happen. (Hopefully it will in my lifetime, but I know that it wonít right now.) The fact of the matter is that most Deaf people that I meet donít really care. The reason is because they have been taught that ASL is not equal to English. That leads me to your comment:
...why would academia be interested for the long-term? They only recently finally started supporting sign languages as true languages -- and well, the signing community knew it long before they did.
Honestly, that isnít true at all. The signing community did not even believe that sign languages were true languages until long after someone in academia suggested that sign languages were true languages. If you read old publications like ďDeaf LifeĒ which were written for the US Deaf community by the US Deaf community, there are countless times of mention that ďsignsĒ are ďwithout grammarĒ or ďbad EnglishĒ.
We are actually the first generation of sign language users who actually believe that sign languages are true languages and have never questioned that, but those from the previous generation generally did not believe that. There may have been a few who felt that way, but they never told others that because it wasnít the standard thinking of the time. Now we are seeing that with the idea of writing sign languages. It isnít currently the standard thinking of the time, but we are working to change that.
Now about the Symposium seeming like it is focused on academia or for programmer, I can understand that because that is what it turned into this year. And the truth of the matter is that there will always be more academia and programmers than there are Deaf people partly because there are more in numbers. The other part is because, like I said earlier, most just donít seem to care.
Why do they not care? For several reasons, but I think the largest is because we are told from day one that we must have a mastery of English to be successful. And not just here in the US, but all around the world. Most of the presenters were not native to English. When we asked them what language they would like to present in, all but one said they would present in English. I have seen this happen in other types of events as well. The reason is because they want to get to the biggest audience possible.
If all we were doing was the Symposium (and leaving just as we had it without adding interpretations later), then I would agree that we are doing it all wrong. The case of the matter is that we arenít just that. Really, the Symposium is a why of letting others know what are the various projects that everyone is doing. From there we can join in, take from, and build on other projects. So that means that there will be programmers and academia as well as regular Deaf Joes from off the street at various times.
Anyways, I am rambling and I donít want to digress too much. Iíll just say one more thing. I would love to see more average Deaf Joes participate more. And if there were enough to start having a focused event just for them in their various countries, Iíd be all for it. :-)
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