Web users get a finger language class
Say more with your fingers than just 'Up yours!'
Fancy learning a new language - with no need to go abroad to use it? And no, it's not Welsh...
Sense, a charity for the deafblind, is using YouTube and its own Website to encourage others to learn the "manual alphabet" that it calls Finger Lingo, and which works by spelling words out on the hand. It has put an instructional video on-line, claiming it's so easy to use that you could learn Finger Lingo in your lunch break.
The charity has done a study on public attitudes to the deafblind, and says 83 percent of the people it questioned believed it would be difficult for a person who is both deaf and blind to do things such as go to work, play a musical instrument, or produce art - yet they may be quite capable of any or all of these.
Tony Best, Sense's CEO, said that the blocking factor is that most people simply don't know how to communicate with someone who is both deaf and blind.
"We want to challenge the perceptions the public has of deafblind people, and by encouraging them to learn how to communicate with them, find out just how they get on with their lives," he said.
According to Sense, there are more than 27,000 deafblind people in the UK, and many thousands more who have a combination of sight and hearing problems.
Sense added that next week is Deafblind Awareness Week 2007, and its theme for this will be Hidden Talents - celebrating what deafblind people can do, rather than what they can't.
Among the events scheduled for the week are an exhibition of art created by deafblind students, a fund-raising dinner, and a wine and art auction to be held in total darkness.®
Response to Finger Lingo access issues
Thanks to Douglas Yates for his comments on accessing our Finger Lingo video on our website. We have reported the Firefox issue to our developers who are looking into it.
In terms of the navigation issue you mentioned, we are already in the process of redesigning our website to make it easier for people to use.
Web and Intranet Manager, Sense
blame on which people?
It's not about "blaming" all those people who for no good reason are persisting in going around with their sight and vision intact, the insensitive sods... That would be daft. Nor is it a half-baked idea about how everyone in the country should learn FingerLingo just in case they happen to meet a deafblind person.
It's more about raising awareness that, with some fairly easy provision, a deafblind person CAN still "experience and interact with the world around them", be a good employee, a good friend, a good customer. If 100,000 people view the videos, and only 1% decide to try and learn FingerLingo, that's still going to be 1,000 people opening up a whole bunch of opportunities not just for deafblind individuals but also for themselves, not to mention 99,000 people who will have realised that if they ever need to communicate with a deafblind person, it IS perfectly possible.
It's about not simply dismissing out of hand a bunch of people who are just as intelligent, stupid, creative, technical, funny, boring and human as anyone else.
It's also a little bit about challenging the perception that disability issues are a "them and us" situation. 1 in 7 people in the UK are disabled in some way, it's you but for the grace of god and through illness or injury it could be you in a second. If it is you, are you going to sit quietly and take it?
Re: So the blame is on the people?
The words "paranoid", "defensive", and "arsehole" come to mind. No one is being blamed. The guy is simply looking for a way to integrate these people into the workforce. Clearly one cannot change the fact that they are deaf and blind. He is presenting a possible solution, not blaming the world.
They might promote more awareness if they fixed their bloody awful website.
Using Firefox, not exactly an obscure browser, I have to click through up to 30 authentication requests on each page I look at. Having done this and searched the bizarrely fomatted pages, I find that the finger lingo explanation is only available as a video, which I am unable to see. Pictures would have worked for me, or line drawings maybe, even descriptive text would have helped, but no, just video.
I was quite interested in "learning a new language in [my] lunch break" when I read your article. Unfortunately I've spent the whole of my lunch break wasting my time and am now too annoyed to think about learning anything.
So the blame is on the people?
Quote: "Tony Best, Sense's CEO, said that the blocking factor is that most people simply don't know how to communicate with someone who is both deaf and blind."
So, apparently it is not that the lack of two of the most important senses prevent them from properly experiencing and interacting with the world around them, but that the world around them irrationally insists on a dependance on all human senses for its appreciation.
Though I agree that expanding one's horizons in order to communicate with the deaf-blind is never a bad idea, proposing that the perception of their inability to function properly in our world is false because it is the world that is not properly adapted to their state, is a bit of a stretch.