Special Issue: Music and Deaf Studies/Culture/ASL (Update)

[Video description: It is daylight. Ben Jarashow is sitting at his desk. In the background, to his right, is a tall black bookshelf full of books; to his left, is a partial view of a window. Ben, a white male, is dressed in a dress shirt and sweater vest. The shirt is long sleeved, light blue, pinstriped, and button-up. The sweater vest is black with a pattern consisting of large beige diamonds and thin white lines atop each, forming an X. Ben has a full beard and he is wearing a pair of black, thin rimmed glasses.]

When JASLL announced their decision to publish a special issue with a theme focusing on music, we were contacted by many people sharing the same reaction. They asked, why music? We want to let you all know that we understand your concerns. Why the decision to do research on music and our Deaf community? There are two reasons. First, while there have been articles published in the past on our Deaf community and music, they are few and far between, and most if not all of them have been written in the English language. Our goal is to gather this information into one place to be translated into ASL in order to provide different perspectives regarding music and our Deaf community. But so you know, there’s a huge discrepancy of information that’s out there, some contradictory to others, yet everything should be in one place to provide the opportunity for analysis and discussion. Second, while there have been heavy discussions about the use of music within our Deaf community, academic-level publications by Deaf authors have been overshadowed by hearing authors. It seems that hearing people have been paying close attention to the role of music in our Deaf community and publishing their observations. We feel, right now, that hearing people have been dominating the discussion on music and our Deaf community. We think it’s time for our Deaf community to take back ownership and control of the discussion of music in academic-level discourse. It’s time for us to come together to lead academic level discourse with our research, analysis, discussions, observations, and different perspectives. Really, you know, there are so many different topics we could easily discuss and analyze. Like for instance, why is it considered taboo [to discuss music] in our Deaf community? Why is it that our Deaf community is largely divided when it comes to music – those who support and immerse themselves in music, and others who cannot stand music? Why the polar opposites of both groups? How has the role of music in our Deaf community evolved through time, from the past to the present? How do music programs vary in schools throughout the nation? Some people decide to include music in their ASL teaching, while others do not. How does one determine this kind of practice? There are groups of Deaf people who have dedicated their lives to becoming professional musicians, producing and creating music, touring and performing. At the same time, there are groups of hearing interpreters who have devoted their time to interpreting musical performances and releasing their own music videos on the internet. This is such a diverse topic; one involving many arguments. It’s time that we own this conversation, to do further analysis.

Video description and transcript by Julia Velasquez. Thank you!