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Letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail on language

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Letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail

Re: ‘Dialogue of the deaf:’ Syrian peace talks bog down over Assad’s future, January 27

An article described the Syrian peace talks, as “a dialogue of the deaf”. Imagine how offensive and misleading this is when Deaf people all over the world are having conversations and dialogues!

People who have a hearing loss or are culturally Deaf and whose first language is a visual language such as American Sign Language (ASL) or Langue de signes québécoise (LSQ) have fought vigorously to cast off long-held stereotypes that they are “deaf and dumb” or “deaf-mute.” Using a metaphor such as this negative stereotype reinforces incorrect assumptions. Decades of being denied access to language, employment, and equity in all spheres of society and the ongoing struggle to ensure these rights today all contribute to the offense taken at the use of these metaphors.

Undoubtedly many would see this offense as oversensitive or political correctness gone wrong. But were we all to know and understand the global history of people who are Deaf we might better understand the sense of taking a step back when these metaphors are used.

Our hope is that the Globe and Mail, as one of Canada’s most venerable institutions, will instead take a step forward and be the first newspaper to ban the use of these metaphors in its pages.

Chris Kenopic, President and CEO, Canadian Hearing Society

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