by Omar N.
In the article titled, “Making Web Content Accessible for the Deaf Via Sign Language”, the German author argues that the web is prejudice against deaf people and gives a statistic that says 0.1 to 0.2 percent of any given population is deaf. It is explained that while it is true that information on the web is primarily exchanged through text, a large majority of those who are deaf tend to be illiterate. The reason for their illiteracy comes from the fact that reading and writing is learned after becoming familiar with oral language. Without a spoken language foundation, grammatical rules and vocabulary become a much greater challenge to comprehend for those born deaf. So much so, that many children drop out of school before learning basic reading and writing skills.
After reading this article, I have to say I disagree with the author’s conclusion. Yes, the deaf should have access to the same resources as any other person. So should the blind, the handicapped, people that only understand a foreign language, and just about everyone else in the world. We should design our websites so that anyone can visit it and read the content regardless of their native language or form of communication. Would it be more fair? Yes. But, is it practical? No. I really wish equality existed on the internet, but the truth is language is bias and so is its creation. Also, not every deaf person is illiterate, but just the ones that had difficulties at an early age. The author is looking for a treatment and not a cure. There should be more focus on helping deaf children and not giving up on them so easily instead of rewriting the internet. Just a thought.
I do see an opportunity here, however, so let’s do the math. If there are close to 2 billion people on the internet and say 0.2 percent of that population is deaf, then we can assume that there are 400 million people on it that are deaf. For the business minded, that is 400 million potential customers for a product that can bridge the technological barrier between sign languages and written forms of communication. Now that is a good sign.
Möbus, L. (2010). Making Web Content Accessible for the Deaf Via Sign Language. Library Hi Tech, 28(4), 569-569-576. doi:10.1108/07378831011096231