|Sent on:||Wednesday, December 5, 2012 10:51 PM|
Greetings, Boston ASL members!
I am delighted that this group has grown so much over the past year, and keeps growing, with several Meetups every week, when it used to meet just once a month!
We are writing to remind people of the reasons for our rules, because we've noticed that some people have started to break them. The rules are simple.
1) Voices off.
2) Eye contact with the person you are communicating with.
3) No prolonged side conversations (verbal or written). If you must answer the phone or have a text conversation, excuse yourself, complete that conversation, and return ready to chat in ASL!
This group includes many Deaf people. ASL is the native language of Deaf people's in the US, and it is on par with English or any spoken language. Deaf people are a cultural-linguistic minority group in this country, with their own language, culture, and history. The leaders of Boston ASL (Deaf, hearing, and hard of hearing alike) want to reinforce that respecting Deaf people and Deaf culture means behaving in a culturally appropriate way.
Why are these rules important? They demonstrate respect. If you use your voice, refuse to look directly at the person you're signing with, or are constantly on your phone or writing notes to converse, you are excluding Deaf people from your conversation on purpose. It is equivalent to getting together in a group and having someone take others aside to whisper or gossip about you behind your back. Doing this is rude and unacceptable.
Moreover, many Deaf people have grown up in hearing families in which they were always excluded from conversation, and no one bothered to learn to sign or even to explain what they were talking about when asked. Speaking is automatically exclusive. Do not do it in our ASL groups! We want our Meetups to be Deaf-friendly and not a place in which Deaf people must once again fight to be part of the conversation.
We understand that if you are an ASL 1 or 2 student, you may need pen and paper to ask questions about signs, or even draw what you're trying to communicate in sign, but can't quite get there yet. That's okay! We understand! But those who are not absolute beginners should instead try their best to communicate without writing. There are plenty of people who can help you build your vocabulary and work on your grammar with you. That is what this group is for!
If you stare at your phone or text the whole time you're at a Meetup, you won't improve in your ability to converse in ASL. So drop your phone or your note pad, look up at the people around you, and let them know that you're there to chat in ASL, socialize, have fun, and learn at the same time.
Thanks, everyone, and happy signing!