Sign Language: Should We All Learn It?

Sign Language: Should We All Learn It?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, American Sign Language (ASL) is the fourth most spoken language in the United States, with over two million people in North America using ASL. However, sign language has no connection to the English language we consistently use. Moreover, British sign language is different from American sign language. Above all, sign language isn’t only about the gestures, it is composed of vocabulary, expression and grammar.

As recognized, sign language is the fundamental language of people who are deaf and hard of hearing. Sign language can be some people’s first language as well. In any respect, learning sign language is beneficial to everyone even if you think you do not need to learn it. So, why should we learn it?

sign-language

Graphic by Propa Alam

 Cultural awareness is notably essential, so being competent with sign language not only helps with your language proficiency but also communicate and comprehend disabled people in a meaningful and considerate way. On the other hand, learning a new language is commonly enjoyable and gratifying to a certain extent. It allows you to have the opportunity to get to know people from the deaf community and learn about the community. According to World Health Organization (WHO), it is stated that approximately 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, which include 34 million children and is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss.

Sign language can be convenient in the business world as well. Generally, it is required to learn how to use sign language in the workforce where you are in a position of interacting with deaf individuals and people with hearing issues in any condition, especially when it comes to being a professional interpreter and working in broadcasting. In addition, it is known as a great professional asset and overall enhances your resume. Not to mention, it has been asserted that learning sign language helps with cognitive abilities and boosts your language skills. You will be able to gain an appreciation of visual arts as well.

All things considered, sign language grants a hearing person convenience that helps them learn a whole new language, allows them to connect with the deaf community and is generally a professional asset. Nonetheless, it would be favorable if schools and institutions included sign language as a language choice for the fact it would allow children to learn this particular language which would benefit them and allow them to connect with the disabled community. Broadly, there are more purposes and ways to use sign language apart from business, specialty and joy.

Ableist Terms Used in Everyday Life

Ableist Terms Used in Everyday Life

Ableist language is the bane of our communication. We often misuse words in a politically and morally incorrect manner. With certainty, we are familiar with the terms: “retarded”, “psycho”, “schizo” just to name a few. This language, being used throughout our daily discourse, humiliates people with disabilities. However, these words are not only immoral on account of being degrading, they are directly immoral considering they emphasize the negative stereotypes surrounding people with cognitive, developmental and personality disorders, making them feel alienated.

Our society tends to use these terms often as an alternative to insults such as crazy, dumb, foolish, slow, or inferior and so forth. These words are inadvertently used to denounce people with cognitive disabilities with little consideration, which is disparaging. At the present time, ableism arguably exists and is prevalent in modern society, however, nobody is deliberately aware of how immoral it is. The term “retarded” originates from the medical term describing retardation, which refers to an individual with mental disorders. Note: That there are, however, numerous forms of retardation. Nowadays, the term has been inherently used as a hate speech towards people with developmental and intellectual abilities. Moreover, terms like psychopath commonly sneak into our day-to-day conversations, but the fact is that it is only undermining and stigmatizing the personality disorder. With the introduction of so many social awareness campaigns in the past few years, words such as “psychopath” should be added to the movements, which in turn, could optimistically create a utopian society of socio-politically conscious individuals.

In our contemporary society, these words are synonymous with negative connotations and are used to insult someone. On another note, look how vast the English vocabulary is. When someone uses one of these offensive words to describe others, they are generally humiliating people who have developmental and psychological disabilities and, they may not even be aware of it. We have no idea how detrimental these words are towards individuals with mental illnesses and how they produce negative stereotypes. It is defamatory. In fact, throughout the history of television, these words have been mouthed by television characters, which indicates that the negative connotations to the words were truly non-existent, or they were perhaps used due to mere ignorance.

It is realistic to suppose that these words are often used with the consciousness of the negative connections to it. On the other hand, the awareness could be spread about the extremely negative impact such a word carries. Yet the disabled community should not be subverted by our everyday conversations. For the better, we ought to acknowledge the implications of the words voiced on a daily basis.

The Dark Sides of Fashion

The Dark Sides of Fashion

The fashion industry may be one of the most prosperous and developing industries in the global economy. Unfortunately, it is also one of the largest contributors to pollution and exploitation. According to experts, the fashion industry is one of the largest global contributors to environmental pollution, which has a huge impact on water, air and soil, due to its heavy usage of toxic chemicals and much more. In addition, the industry is controversial, not only for its contribution towards pollution but also for their exploitation of factory workers.

The fashion industry has a fatal impact on the environment, especially air and water pollution due to the excess utilization of toxic chemicals and textile waste.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

The Environmental Audit Select Committee has asserted that 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions have been solely produced by the fashion industry. In addition, they added that people are able to afford twice as much clothing items as a decade ago and fish are consuming synthetic fibers discharged into the rivers by textile factories. Stephen Leahy of The Guardian reported that the water that was used to grow cotton in India used eighty five percent of the daily water requirements for the population of the country. The scary fact is that over one hundred million individuals in the country lack access to clean drinking water. Research has found that over twenty percent of water pollution is comprised of textile treatments and dyeing, while ninety percent of wastewater in developing countries is dumped into rivers without being treated. The issue with wastewater is that it contains toxic elements, such as lead, mercury, and more, which are fatal to marine life and extremely detrimental to humans.

Another crisis within the fashion industry is the exploitation of factory workers in the form of low wages and inhumane living conditions. Child labor has been a major part of the inhumane exploitation of humans within the industry. According to Daily Mail UK, kids eat, shower and rest inside the factories with just half a day off a week, on account of the extent of work. On top of that, UNICEF has stated over million children, ages ten-to-fourteen have been overworked as child laborers in Bangladesh. Regardless of these transgressions, the fashion industry is known to be one of the highest-grossing industries, due to its global economic success. The McKinsey Global Fashion Index reported that the industry has risen by five-point-five percent, and is currently worth an estimated two-point-four trillion dollars. Yet, oftentimes factory workers are paid less than the sanctioned salary, a disturbing fact that is often overlooked within the industry, as well as the general public.

On a more positive note, buying clothes from sustainable brands and thrift stores, as well as donating and recycling clothes instead of throwing them out are highly encouraged with respect to sustainability. When it comes to celebrities, Emma Watson, Pharrell Williams and more have been great advocates for environmental change and the sustainable fashion movement. They have also collaborated on sustainable fashion labels. Emma Watson, who is the U.N.’s Women’s Goodwill Ambassador, has collaborated with the ethical fashion brand People Tree. The fast fashion label H&M declared that they will only be using recycled, as well as other sustainable materials by 2030. As a result, in 2017, the Ethisphere Institute named H&M one of the most ethical companies in the world.

Although some of the fashion brands are making amendments to sustain environmental conditions, the fashion industry has a long way to go in order to maintain an ideal future for the upcoming generations. On the bright side, millions of people have been actively protesting and demanding change in the name of conserving our planet. If we hope for a sustainable and better future, we must voice the demand for more sustainable and ethically-correct products from the brands that supply us with our needs.

Is Mental Health a Social Taboo?

Is Mental Health a Social Taboo?

Do people take mental illnesses seriously? A mental illness is a health condition involving changes in thinking, emotions or behaviours, it could also be a combination of the three. The most common mental illness in North America is anxiety disorder. The disorder is primarily composed of panic and phobias. People who are affected by mental illnesses either manage to recover, or are capable of living with it, however seek occasional, professional help. However, until recently, the issue surrounding mental illness is that it has been depicted by the media as something to be ashamed of, proving that it is stigmatized in general.

Photo: (Courtesy) pixabay.com, creative commons certificate

According to a study, “internalized discrimination” is a process where people who are affected by mental illnesses raise the stereotypes about mental health issues against themselves and is directly endorsed by society. Being discriminated in general has a major impact on one’s self-esteem and overall confidence. People with mental illnesses believe that they are not valued. They are regularly discriminated, tend to feel isolated within society and are likely to meet socially separate. The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health stated that people with a mental illness are often depicted as violent and abrupt by the media. However, Mental Health UK made a good point in stating that the people who are affected by mental illness are more at risk of harming themselves than harming anyone else.  Corporations and celebrities are excellent examples of ways in which the social movement around mental illnesses are finally becoming less taboo. Bell Canada, for example, initiated a campaign assistance program known as “Bell Let’s Talk” to promote awareness on this topic and to diminish the stigmatization. The campaign allows people to share their story, experience and struggles with mental illnesses. Howie Mandel, a Canadian comedian and television host, has become Bell Let’s Talk’s main ambassador and speaks openly about dealing with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), which falls under the broad category of anxiety disorders. In 2009, Mandel released a funny, yet genuine autobiography entitled “Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me.” In the autobiography, Mandel opened up about his personal struggle with OCD, as well as ADHD and how much of an impact these mental illnesses had on his life.

Celebrities such as Howie Mandel voicing their illness, and corporate campaigns such as Bell Let’s Talk” can be seen as progressive examples in the fight to end the social taboo of mental illness in North American socie

Skip to content