For most people, social media is hardly a darling of the digital age.
The deaf would like to respectfully disagree. Social communications technology is bringing deaf society together, after decades struggling to find each other. Credit Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio
Being able to share a common language – written English – with a world that doesn’t speak a deaf person’s primary language – American Sign Language, or ASL – has opened up possibilities for communicating with hearing society that didn’t exist even just a couple presidents ago.
And, social media platforms, namely Facebook, have also opened the deaf community to itself in ways not seen in decades.
In the Upstate, a Facebook group page minted just within the past few months is already proving what a game-changer social media can be for deaf people. Called “Signing Starbucks,” the page started as a rather basic announcement of an evening get-together for deaf people at the store's Laurens Road location in Greenville. Even before the beans were ground, this brainchild of Jason Hurdich, a Greenville resident and ASL lecturer at Clemson, had caused quite the stir.
“I started signing night because … I felt that the deaf community was, for lack of a better word, hiding,” Hurdich says. “Or just more spread out, and this event would bring everybody together.”
He was expecting maybe a couple dozen people. The first signing night drew about 300.