Technology that “Helps” Deaf People

Thank you to those of you who contributed to Journal of American Sign Languages & Literatures (JASLL)’s first Special Issue on “Deafening Music: Transcending Sound in Musicking”. We’re preparing to launch our next Special Issue. Here, we confront another topic in need of reclaiming, that of various technologies developed to “help” deaf people communicate more effectively with non-signers. Two examples are the “SignAloud” gloves which are purported to translate signs into speech and the 3D printed robot which claims it can interpret sign language.

Several people have written critiques of these technologies, noting why they are not as feasible as their inventors claim, but also crucially, calling out the lack of involvement of deaf, skilled signers who could consult on such a project.

This special issue calls for abstracts which critically analyze these and other technologies both with respect to their (in)feasibility and also lack of inclusion. Analysis from a variety of disciplines is encouraged, including but not limited to, linguistics, education, interpretation, deaf studies, among others.

As a guide, consider this article from 2017 which tackles one such invention.

Tentative Schedule

November 15, 2018: Publish Call for Abstracts on JASLL social media sites

February 15, 2019: Begin review of submitted abstracts (including recruiting and assigning review team(s))

April 1, 2019: Inform authors of accepted abstracts and share specifications for video articles

August 1, 2019: Collect article drafts and send for review

September 15, 2019: Collect reviews and inform authors of decisions/feedback. Give specifications for revisions.

November 1, 2019: Collect revised articles

December 1, 2019: Send final videos in for editing

February 15, 2020: Publish Special Issue on JASLL

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