Cpt Hall's #PledgeofAllegiance in #AmericanSignLanguage on #InaugurationDay has rightfully seized our attention. In this thread, I want to analyse where this came from, what we can learn from it, and what we should NOT learn from it. Read more on this longish THREAD 1/20
When Cpt Hall starting signing, social media exploded with deaf people seeing fluency in her signs and wondering, as @NeilMcD did with his CODA son, if she was also a CODA. And she is! CODAs may grow up with a national sign language as one of their family languages @codaintl /2
Cpt Hall seemed to decide on her own to use #ASL (remember, sign languages are not universal- they are as distinct as spoken languages. The @WFDeaf_org estimates 200+ signed languages around the world. And only 50+ have been legally recognized. wfdeaf.org/news/the-legal… /3
Many people -deaf people, CODAs, family members, friends, and yes, even myself, found ourselves with tears in our eyes when Cpt. Hall starting signing.

This brings me to what we can learn from this.

Why did this unexpected view of #ASL cause so many of us to tear up? /4
.@NovicSara+ others say this is due to unexpected access. But @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris campaign was one of the most ASL-friendly I've seen, with Deaf ASL interpreters and closed captions at all virtual events. Now their @WhiteHouse is doing the same! /5
I think our tears were also about surprise. And about status. Seeing ASL being used naturally, genuinely and directly (not mediated via an interpreter) at the nation’s highest ceremonial event further legitimized ASL as a part of our national political + cultural heritage /6
Many of us remember receiving physical and psychological punishment for signing in schools and in public places. Even today, parents of deaf children are discouraged from using sign language with their deaf/hard of hearing children, resulting in #LanguageDeprivation /7
Seeing #ASL being used in front of the country’s political elite affirmed deaf people's long journey towards sign languages and deaf people being accepted as part of human diversity and of the national languages and cultures of each society in which deaf people live. #DeafGain /8
We also see in this what @mdemeulder + @hildemh write of “language concordant” services. Access directly in sign languages without going through an interpreter. So this was #access + it was also #inclusion, weaving ASL into the fabric of American life. /9
Recognition matters. The 2020 #IDSignLanguages celebration had a #GlobalLeadersChallenge Prime Ministers, Presidents, and political leaders around the world signed the 2020 theme “Sign Languages Are for Everyone” in dozens of national sign languages. wfdeaf.org/iwdeaf2020/ /10
Cpt Hall’s father, Russell “Bubba” Williams, attended the segregated Georgia School for the Deaf. He likely used #BlackASL (BASL), researched by @jaceyhill, @CarolynMcCaskil Ceil Lucas and Robert Bayley. BASL emerged in the context of segregated schools across the US South.. /11
+in segregated US society. Black deaf people were excluded from white deaf organizations and BASL emerged. In Cpt Hall’s Pledge, Black deaf people on social media could identify BASL signs. (Learn more- follow @NBDAdvocates and the Center for Black Deaf Studies @GallaudetU ) /12
The two BASL signs said to be used were the signs for “nation” and “all” (disclaimer: this is still being discussed) To learn more about #BlackASL check out "The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL" and @realcaunsia 's video w/ her grandfather using #BlackASL /13
There is a tragic symmetry in these 2 signs appearing in an oath of allegiance on this day. The original sin of enslavement, carried forth in segregation, gave rise to BASL. In these signs, our sin is present at our highest Constitutional event @POTUS and @VP #InaugurationDay /14
As it should be. We need to be constantly reminded of how much more we need to do as a society to achieve equality for all.

This brings me to my third point: what should we NOT learn from this?/15
.@deafhistorian urges us not to presume signing and speaking at the same time is actually accessible. It is not.
This practice is called SimCom + it can be incomprehensible. To be blunt: Cpt Hall is not a model to follow because...

she signs so well! And you won't. Why not? /16
As a CODA, a signer from birth, and bilingual, Cpt Hall successfully combined two modalities (speaking and signing) in a

1) very brief
2) frozen text that
3) every American knows.

Imagine a newer signer blurring modalities in a conversation about a random topic? #Nope /17
New signers and (god forbid) teachers of deaf kids should not SimCom.Deaf people +some CODAs are adept at #translanguaging, adopting #plurilingual strategies we learn by living in societies that don’t (yet) know sign languages fluently. Learn from us. tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.10… /18
This is why deaf organizations fight to ensure education/health/life is as accessible to deaf people as these are to other members of society. #Covid19 has shown how critical #SignLanguages are - information for all, helps all (not just deaf people) cutt.ly/ljLb3Gv /19
Thank you, Captain Hall, for showing us that sign languages belong everywhere, even in the highest ceremonies of state. Her Pledge on #InaugurationDay shows #ASL is a part of American life and culture.

Deaf communities around the world aim for the same.

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More from @drjosephjmurray

18 Jan
Many thanks to @jahochcam for mobilizing us to respond to shoddy research on deaf peoples. Today, let's highlight the good researchers doing important (and solid!) work on deaf communities and sign languages. And who better to highlight today than Dr. Hochgesang?
Dr. Hochgesang has done so many interesting things! If you've seen @jahochcam present, you know she does amazingly informative and wonderfully visual presentations. Luckily for us, some of her presentations are available via video here juliehochgesang.com/?page_id=930
And @jahochcam has an exciting range of research topics on sign language documentation, sign language corpus creation, and methodological and ethical questions in sign language research. Check out her research here: juliehochgesang.com/?page_id=557 #SignLanguages
Read 4 tweets
2 Oct 19
In this @WHOBulletin special issue @wyattehall @KristinSnoddon + I write language acquisition is human rights issue for deaf people + urge policymakers ensure deaf children gain access to natural signed languages to promote their healthy development. tinyurl.com/y5yobv9k (1/9)
Some quotes from the article in this thread: "Global reports … highlight a stark picture, with an estimated less than 2% of 34 million deaf children worldwide receiving access to a signed language in early childhood." 2/9 @KristinSnoddon
"Early, immersive exposure to a natural language is important for timely neurocognitive and linguistic development of any child. For most deaf children, access to a signed language is an important precondition for this development" @wyattehall (video in ASL) 3/9
Read 9 tweets

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