Updated: Apr 8
A scam is a dishonest scheme, a fraud, or someone who behaves in an untrustworthy way.
Calling yourself "Sign Language" as a hearing band and not providing Sign Language, Deaf representation, or Deaf access is dishonest, fraudulent, and a violation of trust.
Do you know how hard it is to get sign language access? For you to promote yourself as "sign language" with no sign language is false advertisement and taking advantage of deaf community's needs.
The federal Lanham Act allows civil lawsuits for false advertising that “misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin” of goods or services. 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a).
If you call yourself "sign language" you need sign language involved in all you do or it is false advertisement. As it stands you are currently promoting yourself on a name that advertises you as a Deaf service. If you do not provide full accommodations in sign language in all videos you are violating the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) by advertising signs and not providing it.
I hate the idea of anyone deciding that now sign language is gonna mean something else. it makes the fight for rights to sign so much harder if you want to normalize sign language not meaning access to sign language when we don't have rights to sign language.
Arguing for a new definition of sign language undermines Deaf legal rights to sign language under the ADA.
Attempting to change the definition of sign language in a society where hearing actively eradicates Deaf people is part of Deaf cultural eradication and threatens the lives and access of all Deaf people.
In a world where hearing people control deaf rights and deaf access, calling yourself "Sign Language" and having no deaf people and no sign language is like cis het men calling themselves an abortion clinic but not offering abortions while abortion is illegal.
Legally performing under "Sign Language" and having music therefore created and copyrighted under the concept of "Sign Language" undermines Deaf civil rights by trivializing our access to actual sign language.
How are you going to make a legal argument that sign language no longer means sign language and think that doesn't hurt the Deaf community?
How are you going to invalidate sign language as an actual language that Deaf people rely on as a basic human necessity by claiming that a group of hearing people making inaccessible art that have the privilege of exploiting Deaf oppression can now change the meaning of sign language for the sake of profit and social gain?
How are you going to ignore all of the Deaf performers, Deaf artists, Deaf musicians, Deaf signers, Deaf people as if we don't exist? There are real Deaf people who are actual Sign Language musicians! For you to call yourself one and not be one and say oh now it's something else is essentially deliberately attempting to remove Deaf people from the conversation on sign language.
If there is deaf people in this group why is this not deaf friendly content. Where are the captions and actual sign language?
Is this a hearing band extorting sign language to promote their brand?
You cannot do business as sign language because you cannot own that. As a deaf person there is much messed up history for me here. This is very oppressive. This band is ableist and audist and going out of their way to harm the deaf community.
Fine extoring deafhood for clout but can't even provide us access or representation.
If there are no deaf people in this band they need to change their name and stop discriminating against us deaf and excluding us. If there are deaf people in this band, they need to get in touch with their deafhood and start creating some mother fucking deaf access if they want to represent sign language.
Hearing people calling themselves sign language and excluding deaf people and sign language while doing so is erasure of deaf people, deaf culture, and actual sign language. This is an example of active deaf eradication.
Do you understand how triggering it is when deaf have to fight for our rights to sign and you are out here trying to profit off the concept without providing deaf access?
I get mad about hearing teaching sign too. This applies in a similar way.
Not only is it cultural misappropriation, it is about the control of our access to the world. 90 percent of deaf people are born to hearing families who mostly don't sign and only about 10 percent actually grow up signing.
Deaf people make up 15 percent of the population in the U.S. so native hearing signers only make up relatives of about 1.5 percent of the population.
Deaf people are twice as unemployed as hearing people.
More than 98.5 percent of hearing people do not have the native sign knowledge needed to adequately represent fluent sign or the deaf cultural experience when signing is based on linguaculture. 0 percent of hearing people have deaf experience to represent what deaf need for deaf access from deaf perspective.
In a world where hearing people control deaf access this is about human rights. So when you ask why it is wrong to represent sign language or change the meaning of sign language as a hearing person you are essentially asking why it is wrong to ignore deaf autonomy.
There are plenty of deaf musicians and deaf signers you can support instead. Using deaf culture to profit when you are not Deaf while you still oppress deaf for it is not okay!!
Promoting yourself to be against deaf human rights is not okay.
Do they understand deaf history and deaf eradication and how hearing people like them stripped our rights to sign language and forced us to speak and our rights to sign language we fight for every day? For a hearing person to call themselves "Sign Language" when hearing people deny deaf rights to sign language is disgusting to me.
I started the first deaf owned marketing agency in the country. There are only 4 deaf owned marketing agencies out of all the agencies because we have to fight people like this who actively make it harder for us to survive every step of the way. For us sign language is about survival. For them in this context by deciding it means something else so they can make money off of it, it is about denying deaf rights to benefit from our struggle.
"Sign Language" as a concept as executed by this band is like ordering Sean Forbes off Wish and not getting what you ordered.
Anything done under the name "Sign Language" needs Deaf people signing or you are falsely advertising and you are discriminating against us.
I tried to find their names, but I believe they don't want their names attached because they know they are scamming the Deaf Community.
DeafHeaven and Queens of the Stone Age's album "Songs for the Deaf" are definitely also both extremely ableist and audist names for the same reasons. Only Deaf people have Deaf Tones which are measured by hearing people to determine how many rights we have under the ADA. You can't fully represent an experience you do not have. Only Deaf people know what it is like to be Deaf.
At this point those artists have likely been around so much loud noise that they have become Hard of Hearing and are therefore now also Deaf. Late Deaf people are still Deaf, but I feel there is an extra layer of internalized audism for Late Deaf to work through between Deaf identity, Deaf access, and social systems they have built for themselves through a lifetime of hearing privilege.
The biggest difference between then and now? When there was more lack of Deaf representation and access more than 30 years ago, there was no internet and no way for people to be informed of these issues without actually meeting Deaf people as hearing people controlled all of the content at that time.
Today? Know better. Do better. There are way too many of us Deaf out here fighting for you to ignore us and act like we aren't here.
Representation is too big of an issue for you to think now it is irrelevant. When you are the one denying representation, suggesting it doesn't matter is also known as gaslighting.
When I left this band a review giving them all of this information on their Facebook page, they simply chose to block me! Hearing people decided that Deaf perspective was irrelevant to them on Deaf issues as they oppress us and make it harder for us to live!
To the people that think they can define themselves as sign language while not providing Deaf access and discriminating against us, let me know when you stop performing as "sign language" so I can update this story.
The response I received was:
"Hello Alexis! My name is Sarah and I sing in this band, I would love to touch base and discuss this with you some more here soon. I am so sorry that this has offended you in any way, this has been a project under this name since our bandmates were in highschool and have met eachother in an ASL course so they hold significance to the name. We do not make any money as a band as we are just a smaller local band. I am currently unable to give this as much attention as I would like as I am visiting some family over this weekend but I will be sure to swing back to this here soon. Again my apologies, you are very valid in the way you feel towards this and I can assure you that we do not have any plans on profiting off of this. We are just some people who are making music and playing some local shows together that is all. I appreciate you bringing this to me, I will be sure to touch base with you soon. "
My reply was:
That is still discrimination against Deaf people! Hearing people who met learning sign language so they excuse that to appropriate deaf culture and deny deaf access and deaf representation? You are currently on a major lineup and taking gigs to build your career and business under the name Sign Language which is a form of exploiting deafness for profit while denying us access as you do so. If you do not have plans to profit that means you need to prove you accept zero funds whatsoever under the name "sign language". If you are hearing it is not your place to accept money under "sign language" and claim that's not for profit just because your band is not profitable. If you bring in revenue as "Sign Language" that is profiting off us. Your financial management is a different story. You are promoting yourself globally on the internet and by doing business as "Sign Language" you are creating legal issues regarding the use of "Sign Language" as a commodification. Do you understand how cognitive dissonant and gaslighting it is for you to after you blocked me on Facebook use your toxic positivity this way?
Do you understand how it would be racist to call yourself Spanish or any other culture if none of you were from that culture just because you met in Spanish class? This is ableism and audism period!! It is not a cute story, it is discrimination against deaf people. Let me know when your band name is changed.
And regardless of if you bring in money as "sign language", the issue is also representation. The idea you think you can represent deaf culture, which sign language is a Deaf languaculture, is audism if you are hearing people! How you can think it's cute to use Deafhood to name yourself, but not provide any access to deaf people or any deaf representation is gaslighting!
Do you understand how using "sign language" as a business undermines deaf rights and deaf access to sign language under the ADA? [Then I said to read this blog]
[Also I did not give them my name in the email, they knew my name when they replied because they knew exactly who they blocked based on my words.]
When they block me on Instagram just before sending me this message, they seem more concerned with how they think they look over how hearing people misrepresenting "Sign Language" is harmful.
Being on a lineup with Jimmy Eat World trying to tell me this isn't using the concept of "sign language" to profit is gaslighting period.
Promoting yourself with the name "Sign Language" while refusing to communicate with Deaf people about this is sooo fucking alarming. They do not provide any captioned content at the time of this writing/me being blocked, they do not have sign language in any content as of this writing, and none of them are Deaf. They want to use sign language as an inspiration porn feel good story without having to deal with deaf oppression, deaf people, or deaf issues. This is their performative allyship: harming the community they claim to help by acting like any harm they do to us is helpful (because it is to them).
If they have not built their business using "sign language" as they claim, it should not be a big deal for them to change the name if it doesn't matter to them/they're not using it, when sign language does matter to deaf people and we do build our lives on it.
But to call yourself "sign language" as a hearing person and block any deaf person about it is itself deaf eradication, discrimination, and a gross abuse of hearing privilege.
Update 2: The more I process on how complicated the legal ramifications can be of this band having material protected under the law for them as a name "Sign Language," the more upsetting it is as a Deaf person for it to be easier to get auditory media protected under sign language than access for Deaf people in sign language. For Hearing people to use "Sign Language" as a proper noun to refer to their music with no Deaf input, and a common noun to refer to the language, is a form of audism and ableism by placing greater significance on what they can hear than Deaf culture, Deaf access, and Deaf lives.
Deciding that now "Sign Language" when Hearing people do it without Deaf input or actual sign language is "proper" is ableism, audism, oralism that makes it harder for Deaf people to use words to clarify fighting for our rights to access in the world. All because hearing people are entertained by our oppression.
This way in which hearing people can get audio legally validated as "Sign Language" while Deaf people are still fighting to get signed languages recognized as languages is them just going out of their way to hurt deaf people.
Update 3: No language, much less a type of language a community that you are not a part of is marginalized for using, should be able to be considered as a legal entity. Especially when that language is the basis of a marginalized community's human rights.
Trying to own anything under the name of "Sign Language" muddles the legal ownership of who owns what created under the name of the language. This threatens Deaf lives when it comes to fighting for our rights to have access in healthcare, education, work, plus social situations whether or not we know sign language.
The fact that hearing people have more rights to "Sign Language" for their intellectual property than Deaf people do for access in everyday society is fucking bull shit!
And while they're over there treating me like they formed a 501C3 Non Profit to help Deaf people, where is the actual sign language or the Deaf people at? Do they know there are real Deaf people that do Sign Language and Music?
They would need to change their band name and remove all references to themselves as "Sign Language" publicly and online for me to take this post down, because as long as they are benefiting from legal protection of this work I have discussed under the name of "Sign Language", they are harming the Deaf Community's ability to fight for our rights to actual sign language.