Do we oppress deaf-blind people?
Deaf-blind people, just like sighted deaf people, must deal with communication barriers on a daily basis. Some technological advances, such as computers with Braille readouts, bring them into the communication mainstream. Other technologies create new barriers.
But most of the time, what creates barriers to full communication access isn’t technological innovation. The largest barriers often are created by attitudes–not only among hearing people but also among sighted deaf people. When we forget to actively ensure that deaf-blind people are included, then we exclude them.
An articulate deaf-blind woman named Christine Roasachert (sp?) has written a commentary that I hope you will read. Her focus is on videophone technology and deaf-blind people. But she also raises important questions about how we, as sighted deaf people, can sometimes inadvertantly oppress deaf-blind people. Are we doing enough to support our deaf-blind peers by ensuring that new technologies for sighted deaf people, like video phones, don’t exclude them? For most of us, I think the answer is, “No.”
In repsonse to this, my question is: How can we make Gallaudet a more accessible environment for deaf-blind people? And how can we in the wider deaf community ensure that technologies that are so exciting for many of us, such as videophones, do not leave deaf-blind people further behind?