The Fall of the DEAF Empire

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In today’s world, most people, including myself, cannot live without technology. Have you ever wondered about the pros and cons of how technology has affected the Deaf community? I believe technology has benefited the community in many ways, however we must be cautious, cautious because of dependency. I fear that dependency leads to eradication of a culture and a cherished community. Advanced technology can become problematic in the future if we don’t use technology in moderation.

Whenever I have a lengthy conversation with Gallaudet alumni that have graduated between the 1960’s-1980’s, they always tell me the same thing, “Gallaudet has made many changes since my time.” After talking with them some more, I learned how much of a change this campus, AND deaf culture, have experienced. Back in the old days, there used to be a hub where everyone came together to hang out at, mingled, shared daily tidbits, with no phone in hand, full attention to the conversation that was happening. Everyone used their hands and eyes to communicate with each other using ASL. Everyone gathered at the hub because that was one of the few ways people connected with one another, and this is such a stark difference to how we connect today.

Nowadays, we all use our technological devices to communicate with each other, whether it’s texting, social media, FaceTime, or VP. If you were to walk to that ‘hub’ tonight, it would be vacant, potentially with a group playing PokemonGo. You can arrange a visit by a text or a facetime call, and making connections seem more and more obsolete as time progresses. Our current and future generations are lucky to have such vast technology at the touch of their fingertips. However, it must make you and I wonder, is technology making people more lazy to ‘connect’ with one another?

Luckily, there are some pros when it comes technology. Technology allows the average college student to retain much more information at a faster pace rather than the older generations. You can google ‘what is the capital of the United States?’ and get answers within a few seconds versus to going to the library, turning pages, and finding the answer. The alumni that I chat with say, ‘You are so lucky! Your homework can be completed in an hour because of Google! I used to have to take several days, looking up books and sources in the library.’ We may not want to believe it but, we basically have the entire world in our hands.

Unfortunately, technology has changed so much within the Deaf community, which poses a concern. Will technology cause a decline of the unity amongst the Deaf community? With technology and science rapidly improving, many are concerned that Deaf culture will diminish and be eradicated. ‘Why?’ you may ask, and the answer is this: rapidly advancing technology such as stem cell research and finessed cochlear implants.

Using cochlear implants, from a doctor’s viewpoint, ‘cures’ a person of deafness, making the valuation of the deaf community and culture be perceived negatively. In Europe, stem cell research is ongoing to discover a cure for deafness, supporting the claims of stem cell research ‘curing’ a person of deafness. Having a cochlear implant is not the issue as there are benefits with having a cochlear implant, nor is stem cell research to be frowned upon. It is the eradication of an EXISTING Deaf culture and thriving community that is at the forefront of the community’s concern.
If we had more Deaf people specializing in technology and science, we, as a deaf community, would be able to single-handedly change how our community will grow and also contribute to the innovative technologies out in the Deaf community, fostering a positive change. Just imagine having a Deaf person working on a signing recognition application on your phone, or improved captions on different media resources!

Nowadays, most people can’t live without technology which is not always a negative thing. Our society depends heavily on technology, hence the reason for rapid developments and innovations, making it ingrained in our daily lives, creating dependence. This is not bad! There has been advances that have deemed to be beneficial like the development of antibiotics, curing diseases. Technology can benefit us in many ways, but it also may be the cause of a cultural destruction, a culture that I hold dear to my heart, a culture that has made me grow into the person I am today, a culture where I have found my identity. Sometimes, identities involving my culture and technology simply do not mix.

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