+
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
We are a small, independent media company on a mission to share the best of humanity with the world.
If you think the work we do matters, pre-ordering a copy of our first book would make a huge difference in helping us succeed.
GOOD PEOPLE Book
upworthy

asl

popular

Mom responds to criticism for not talking to her baby with heartwarming answer

"He’s getting ASL in addition to English, not in place of."

Mom doesn't talk to baby when sister's cochlear implants are off

Everyone knows that babies learn a great deal of information from adults talking to them. They learn how to form sounds and words. They learn the difference between a question and statement. They even learn the cadence of a conversation, like to pause after talking so the other person can speak. Talking to babies is so important to their development, but one mom has implemented a policy that may initially raise some eyebrows.

Christina Pax is a mom of 2, her older daughter Riley is deaf and her infant son, Leon is hearing. But Pax and her family have a rule that if Riley isn't wearing her Cochlear Implant (CI) then the family sticks to American Sign Language (ASL). Commenters seemed a bit confused and frustrated that the mom "deprived her baby" of language, but turns out her reasoning was out of love.


Pax explained that her family is bilingual and they switch between English and ASL often so their daughter can be included in conversations. Riley's CI helps her hear what is going on in the world, but it's job is to accommodate the hearing not the other way around. By using ASL when Riley doesn't want to wear her CI, Pax is accommodating her daughter.

In the video you can see that baby Leon is completely engrossed in what his mom is saying while she's signing. As an infant he's absorbing all of the information around him, but instead of hearing words, he's seeing them. Bilingual families often speak alternate between languages in their home and some families only speak their home language inside the home until their children become fluent enough to switch between the two with ease.

"We are a bilingual family. We switch between languages and use the one that is accessible to everyone in the convo. ASL is accessible him, so no, it’s not sacrificing his accessibility for hers. He’s getting ASL in addition to English, not in place of" Pax says in the comments.

ASL seems to be more difficult for hearing people to accept as being it's own language and not a replacement for English. But commenters were quick to help the mom clear things up.

"ASL IS A FULL FLEDGED LANGUAGE. It’s like English/Spanish households. He will learn BOTH equally! He is watching her while signing he is absorbing the information with his eyes just like a baby hearing english would," one person says.

"But he will be exposed to spoken English in every other aspect of his life, extended family, even going to the shop, playground etc! Its exactly the same as how a lot of parents raise bilingual children with two spoken languages," another writes.

When you're hearing, it can be hard to remember that deaf people can give birth to hearing children. Children who's first language is ASL or another form of sign language that learn to speak English from sources outside of their parents like TV, grandparents, extended family members and friends.

When it comes down to it, this mom is actually doing something amazing for her daughter and son. She's teaching her daughter that she deserves to be able to navigate the world with or without hearing and she's teaching her son how to communicate with his sister. Being bilingual is an amazing skill. It allows you to be able to speak to others who may not speak English which can be invaluable.

Baby Leon seems to enjoy his mom and sister using their voices and also using ASL, so he will

At this year's Super Bowl, Demi Lovato performed the national anthem to open the game. Another woman, Christine Sun Kim, simultaneously performed the anthem 10 yards away from her. The problem was, the vast majority of people who wanted—or needed—to see that second performance didn't get to.


In an op-ed in the New York Times, Christine Sun Kim shared how proud she was to represent the deaf community at the Super Bowl and serve as the ASL (American Sign Language) performer for the national anthem and "America the Beautiful." She also shared how disappointed she was that only the people inside the stadium were able to see her performance. On television and online broadcasts, only few brief seconds of her performance was shown.

"While Fox Sports announced the signed performance of the two songs on Twitter, it did not actually show it," Kim wrote. "On the television broadcast, I was visible for only a few seconds. On what was supposed to be a 'bonus feed' dedicated to my full performance on the Fox Sports website, the cameras cut away to show close-ups of the players roughly midway through each song."

"Why have a sign language performance that is not accessible to anyone who would like to see it?" she added.

It's an excellent question. Sign language is meant to be seen. That's literally the way it works. According to the 2011 American Community Survey, about 11 million people, or 3.6% of the U.S. population, consider themselves deaf or seriously hard-of-hearing. So it's not like only a handful of people were affected by the networks not broadcasting the signing of these songs.

RELATED: Starbucks' first U.S. 'signing store' opens soon. Here's why that's awesome news.

Some might think, "Well, everyone knows the words of the song anyway, what difference does it make for deaf people to see it performed in sign language?" But let's think that through a bit. We all know the words of the song, but we all still tune in to hear it sung anyway. We like to see the anthem performed. We like to experience the skill of the musician, the power of the song, and the emotion in the performance of it.

Christine Sun Kim's sign language performance had all of that for the deaf community to experience. Watch:

www.youtube.com

Actress Marlee Matlin, who has signed the anthem at the Super Bowl there times, called out the networks for not including the ASL version of the anthem in a split screen or bubble for the entirety of the performance.

As Kim wrote, "It's 2020: We've had the technology to do so for decades. And people noticed."

Kim went on to explain the struggle for media inclusiveness as well as the political and social struggles deaf people face, while also praising the steps that have been taken to provide more closed captioning on programs and interpreters at live events. She shared her hesitation about participating in an NFL event due to various controversies, but also pointed out that the NFL has made great strides in providing access for deaf people for three decades. Ultimately, she was understandably disappointed that people weren't able to see the ASL version of the songs, for the benefit of both deaf and hearing audience members.

RELATED: A 17-year-old made messaging easier for those who are deaf. And he wasn't even trying to.

"I had hoped to provide a public service for deaf viewers, and believed that my appearance might raise awareness of the systemic barriers and the stigmas attached to our deafness — and move some people to action," she wrote. "I hope that despite the failure of Fox to make the performance accessible to all, it did do that."

Read Kim's entire op-ed here, and watch Kim's performance of "America the Beautiful" as well.

www.youtube.com

Starbucks has announced its first U.S. signing store catering to deaf and hard of hearing people.

Opening in October in Washington, D.C, the store will employ 20-25 deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing workers fluent in American Sign Language. The location, near Gallaudet University — a private university for deaf and hard of hearing people — was chosen because it's already a vibrant, deaf-friendly hub.

The idea for the store came from a team of deaf Starbucks partners and allies who were inspired by the opening of Starbucks' first signing store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2016. Like the Malaysian store, the D.C. location will provide both employment opportunities and a highly inclusive gathering space for the deaf/hard of hearing community and their friends.


That's great news for deaf and hard of hearing folks, who often face significant barriers to finding and keeping employment.

The simple act of ordering a cup of coffee is something many hearing people take for granted. Having a store where customers can order in sign language and know they will be understood is a boon to those who need it.

Just as impactful, however, is the purposeful embrace of employees who are deaf or hard of hearing.

According to the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes, 72% of hearing Americans of working age are employed, while only 48% of deaf Americans are. And almost half of deaf unemployed people are not in the labor force at all, meaning they have either given up on finding employment or have decided for some reason not to seek it.

Barriers to employment for deaf and hard of hearing people include employers having an inadequate understanding of "reasonable accommodations" required by law, difficulties in communication, and inadequate educational preparation. In addition, 1 in 4 deaf workers have quit a job due to discrimination in the workplace.

Starbucks creating a mainstream workplace specifically catering to deaf and hard of hearing employees is a big deal.

Advocates have lauded the store opening as a step forward.

"The National Association of the Deaf applauds Starbucks for opening a Signing Store that employs Deaf and hard of hearing people," said Howard A. Rosenblum, the org's CEO. "Starbucks has taken an innovative approach to incorporating Deaf Culture that will increase employment opportunities as well as accessibility for Deaf and hard of hearing people, while at the same time educating and enlightening society."

Deaf actress Marlee Matlin celebrated the announcement on Twitter.

And when Starbucks responded to her tweet with a person signing "thank you," Matlin said she "couldn't wait to order [her] nonfat hot chai latte in sign."

Other people who communicate differently, such as some people on the autism spectrum who also utilize sign language, are also expressing excitement about the new store.

Starbucks' inclusiveness initiatives can serve as an example to corporate America.

The coffee giant doesn't exactly have a perfect track record when it comes to inclusiveness, having made news for a racist incident in a Philadelphia store earlier in 2018. In response, the corporation shut down 8,000 of its U.S. stores for a day in order to engage 175,000 employees in a company-wide racial bias training. The one-day training received mixed reviews, but Starbucks says it was just the beginning and that it has begun making such trainings part of the onboarding process for new employees.

Despite some bumps along the way, it's clear that Starbucks has consistently endeavored to lead the way in addressing systemic issues and creating inclusive workplaces and consumer environments. This new signing store is a great example of giving marginalized people the reins, supporting an initiative led by those people themselves, and pushing inclusiveness into the mainstream.

Well done, Starbucks.

Starbucks Announces First U.S. Signing Store

We are excited to announce that our first Signing Store in the U.S. will open in Washington, D.C. this October, building on our ongoing efforts to connect with the diverse communities we serve. Learn more here: https://sbux.co/2LarhAk

Posted by Starbucks Partners - Access Alliance on Thursday, July 19, 2018
More

Watch this Disneyland visitor's joy when Captain America joins him in sign language.

Making the park experience more accessible to people who use ASL has been a long-term goal.

A viral video of Captain America having a sign language conversation with a Disneyland guest is melting hearts across the internet.

One of the sweetest moments I've ever seen. Quit making me fall in love with you. 💜

A post shared by jade (@xoxogossipjew) on


The video — originally posted June 29, 2016, by a woman named Jade Wilsonshows a guest telling Captain America that he's from Boston, and Cap responding by saying that he's working on his American Sign Language skills, but is a bit of a slow learner.

The exchange was exactly the type of heartwarming, magical experience Disney aims to deliver.

Since 2010, Disney has worked to make its parks more friendly and accessible to deaf people.

For those who communicate via ASL (not all deaf or hard-of-hearing people do), it can make their trip to the park even better.

In 2016, Disney even produced a video highlighting one family's trip to Florida's Disney World with their daughter, Shaylee, who uses ASL to communicate. As if meeting Tinkerbell wasn't exciting enough, Shaylee was ecstatic when Tink introduced herself in sign language.

[rebelmouse-image 19530889 dam="1" original_size="450x222" caption="GIF from Disney Parks/YouTube." expand=1]GIF from Disney Parks/YouTube.

Disney's decision to create an inclusive experience for guests with disabilities isn't just the right thing to do, it's good for their bottom line.

Businesses have long argued that increased accommodations for customers with disability come at an excessive or unnecessary cost. The response to the Captain America video shows how wrong that thinking is.

Creating an experience that accommodates the needs of all isn't an unnecessary expense. It's a good investment.

Disability advocate David Perry explains via email:

"The response to Captain America doing ASL shows that committing to accessibility pays off, not just in serving customers with disabilities — though that's most important — but also in making people just generally feel welcome. My son, who has Down syndrome, doesn't need sign language. But knowing that Captain America is out there makes me feel more confident that Disneyland will meet his needs too."

Every Disney guest deserves the opportunity to have the same sort of magical experience at the parks, and access for people with disabilities shouldn't be treated as some sort of bonus. Stories like these are a powerful reminder that doing the right thing can pay off, and that's why it's so important to share them when we see them.

Way to go, Cap.

[rebelmouse-image 19530890 dam="1" original_size="500x500" caption="GIF from Marvel Entertainment/YouTube." expand=1]GIF from Marvel Entertainment/YouTube.