Thursday, June 19, 2008

Of feed aggregators, hypocrisy, and choices.

Mike of Kokonut Pundit made an interesting observation on the double-standards that are beig perpetuated by individuals against Deaf Village's rule #5 (which states that video blogs, 'vlogs,' are required to have captions/subtitles or a transcript.)

In addition to covering the hypocrisy of bloggers that are against this rule demanding that text only blogs also provide ASL translations (even though they themselves don't bother to do so,) he points out that;

"Deaf Village's target audience isn't only just Deaf people but people with heairng loss from all stripes and those who want to learn more about deafness and read about deaf/hh people experiences."

THIS is what I will address.

According to Wikipedia, a feed aggregator, also known as a feed reader, news reader or simply as an aggregator, is client software or a Web application which aggregates (gathers) syndicated web content such as news headlines, blogs, podcasts, and vlogs in a single location for easy viewing.

Aggregators typically target a specific audience. There are aggregators for democrats, and those for republicans. Aggregators for catholics, buddhists, muslims, and athiests. You'll find aggregators that target golfers, mortgage brokers, or those in the movie industry, and there are aggregators for different disabilities/cultural segments of society.

People gravitate to a specific feed aggregator because they have expectations on what the content they will be served will consist of.

You wouldn't expect to read a blog expounding creationism on an aggregator that targets scientists who study genetics or evolution.

You wouldn't expect to read a blog about why people should vote for John McCain on an aggregator for Barack Obama supporters.

You wouldn't expect an aggregator targeting hunting/shooting enthusiasts to include blogs written by people who want to outlaw firearms, or disband the NRA.

Nor would you expect to come across an ASL-based blog with no translation in an aggregator that promises to ensure that every blog/vlog is accessible via written English.

Deaf Village (DV) TARGETS a specific grouping of individuals (just like DVTV targets those who vlog in sign - indeed there's been a call to actually ban any blogs that include speaking & captions,) and that targeted audience is promised that they will be able to understand all blogs listed in the DV aggregator. Equal Access is what DV is founded on - the premise that everybody should have the ability to read and understand any blog/vlog that is listed.

I peruse DeafRead, (an aggregator for d/Deaf blogs and vlogs) and there have been many many occasions where I have had to simply close a vlog that was in ASL because I couldn't understand it. Often I'd wonder just what message I had missed, and wished that at the very least, they could have provided a transcript of their discussions. Now I can understand if those vloggers only WANT people who have a total understanding of ASL to view their vlogs. That's fine by me. What bothers me is when those who have that preference cry discrimination because they can't be included in a aggregator that targets a different audience than they do.

Since aggregators typically target specific individuals who are seeking news/information/banter about specific concepts or ideas, the very thought of ASL vlogs without translation in an aggregator promising English text accessibility is absurd.

Now when you consider the act that spurred the creation of Deaf Village - the removal of Rachel of Cochlear Implant Online from the DeafRead aggregator (which I covered in previous entries here and here,) was more because of her stance on the advantages of CI's and AVT than any (supposed) commercial gain/link, it stands to reason that a good majority of bloggers/vloggers who are members of DV also share, if not the same goals as Rachel, at least the concept that discrimination against an individual because the subject matter of their blog is wrong. Especially when this discrimination is hidden in the assertion that it is enforcement of a 'rule' that has been selectively applied.

As such, I hope that a good number of PARENTS of deaf children will stumble across Deaf Village, and its supportive environment, and discover that even though they don't know sign/ASL, they will be able to understand the information provided in the various blogs/vlogs that make up the site. THIS is the kind of equal-access that the DV owners/moderators espouse. After all, English is the common denominator when it comes to accessibility and understanding in our part of the world. Indeed, with the exception of DVTV, all comment systems on blogs are text-based, and as of yet I've not seen/heard anybody complain that its a hardship to make a comment in English. Nor should it be a hardship to in the very least provide a transcript for a vlog - and this goes for vlogs that are spoken only, or cued, etc - so that *everybody* can enjoy the content of every b/vlog offered.

So its simple - if you WANT your deaf/Deaf/AVT/cued speech/ASL/hh/CI/etc blog or vlog to reach the largest audience possible, then DV is for you. If that's not what your needs/wants are, then there are other aggregators available. Having the freedom to make that choice is wonderful, isn't it?


Rachel said...

This is a very well written blog entry! I appreciate your taking time to explain the points of DV's guidelines. You've explained everything that I would've said.

Mike McConnell said...

Well, I just found out about DVTV.

Look here for my response:
My Response

Mike McConnell said...

Also, just to chime in, great blog entry!

It is not surprising that many Deaf people want to be a part of an exclusionary group, er, excuse me, want a "safe haven" location rather than be tolerant to those who may not know signing or ASL.

So much for, ahem, claims of "diversity." But I understand totally but then again aren't they aware of this certain of this somewhat apparent hypocrisy when they do that? Reminds me of when well to do golf courses allowed only men of all stripes ("diversity") but not women (i.e. an all male golf course) though it is a private enterprise. So is DVTV, a private enterprise. Let 'em I'd say.

elizabeth said...

couldn't have sad it better myself!

Kim said...

You expressed exactly what I've been thinking.

I'm glad DeafRead and DeafTV exists for those who can't read or write.

Like you, I've been frustrated with DeafRead vlogs from day one. I'm trying to learn ASL. DeafVillage was created for people us who struggle with ASL.

OCDAC said...

I put up a few blog entries that fits the guidelines and it never showed up on deafvillage. I get email saying there is a technical issue. I wonder if the technical issue being used to cover up a new type of hypocrisy.


Dyniece said...

Rachel, Elizabeth- thanks for your comments :)

Mike - I didn't know you HADN'T submitted the vlog to DVTV. Curiouser and curiouser - wonder who did? I agree with your point though - if DVTV has a "sign only" rule, then the vlog shouldn't even have been accepted...odd isn't it?

Kim - While I know signed English, and my ASL receptive skills aren't half bad, there are still quite few vlogs I've come across where I can't understand the signer, and that's where cc/subtitles would help me enhance my ASL skills! I wish people would look at it that way.

Richard - I don't believe there's any cover-up happening, Rachel has always quickly responded to any tech issues. I had difficulty getting my blog listed originally and it was a feed hiccup due to feedburner. If your submission meets all guidelines then I'm positive it will be listed as soon as they deal with whatever tech issue is holding it up! Don't despair.

Rachel said...


I sent you another e-mail last night. Did you get it?

Dyniece's blog had the exact same technical issues as your blog is having, and it was simply because feed burner was causing the issue which is the type of feed that your blog has. I'm still trying to figure out the issue, but please read my message.


Mike McConnell said...


yes, but I think I know who did. And you're correct that DVTV did not make clear on the kind of "diversity" or "toleratnce" they want. No wonder people are upset over there.

Mike McConnell said...



Dyniece said...

Mike, hopefully that clarification will be made, and lately it seems like more people are supporting DV's total access stance than being against it. Some great arguments, and points are being made, one that Dog Food made over on Banjo's blog regarding the confusion about diversity vs access. Perhaps more people will realize that DV espouses total access, not total diversity. One wishes we could have BOTH, but hopefully the diversity will come as more vloggers realize the amazing audience they can reach if they use subtitles or captions.

Mike McConnell said...

Mike McConnell said...

Free Translation and Captioning Service for ASL Vloggers?

Anonymous said...

Dyniece -

As always a good read. Thank you!

I learn so much from you and your related links!

Thanks for sharing!


Discpad said...

Dyniece, as a hearing impaired electrical engineer, I refuse to surrender to my deafness by either learning ASL or turning on the captions.

Some of the Deafie's call me an Audist; to which I reply,You Betcha!

Dan Schwartz,
Host, The Telegraph (UK) Hearing Blog