Deaf geographies, and other worlds.
(btw – apologies for the hat and the rest… the heating’s off in the house and it gets cold!!)
Back from the Bridging The Gap conference in York, two things…
First, thanks to Dai and the team at YSJ for setting it up. Bravo!
Second, I was struck by something that a couple of people said. First off Clark Denmark and then Nicola Nunn about my choice of speech over sign for my presentation.
Before the conference, I had contacted Dai to find out whether it would be better to sign or speak – Dai knows me well, and knows my signing. The recommendation was to use which ever medium would allow most accurate communication, and (if that were speech) then to let the communication professionals there do the job of interpreting it into BSL. So I chose to speak.
It turned out to be an interesting experiment. The interpreters did a great job, and interpreted accurately… but (perhaps, particularly after Graham had signed) there was a palpable disengagement from the Deaf members of the audience when I started to speak.
Nicola’s point, later, was that although interpretation provided clear and accurate information, it didn’t allow me… as in *me* to engage with the audience. It was hard to engage through the proxy of another person. Particularly when when I was saying was very personal.
Dai’s not to blame… there’s no ‘blame’… Simply, there seems to be a qualitative difference between the impact that the communicative medium has for an audience – particularly a Deaf audience. Communicative ‘accuracy’ (in terms of fewer mistakes) is less persuasive–ultimately, less communicative?–than adopting the Deaf community’s *own* language even if my mangling of it is quite imperfect. So, an interesting question to ponder as we’re talking about academic and community engagement, is the role of language. Communicative perfection, or direct personal engagement?
I think I know which one I’ll use next time 🙂