The NAD affirms that the teaching of sign language in social media needs to be done by members of the Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, Late-Deafened, and Hard of Hearing communities who are heritage signers. It is important to recognize and respect the expertise of heritage signers who teach and to prioritize their knowledge and experience.
On social media, there have been many hearing people “teaching” sign language but do not have the same level of cultural and linguistic understanding of our sign languages as heritage signers. Regardless of their intent to teach, these hearing people often do not have the knowledge or experience necessary to teach sign language in a culturally appropriate and linguistically accurate manner. As a result, the misinformation caused by those without the proper expertise that post “how to sign” videos on social media platforms often spread wrong signs and cultural contexts, which can be damaging to our communities and our linguistic rights. These untrained people are also taking jobs away from heritage signers.
The rapid spread of unqualified people teaching sign language on social media platforms leads to devastating harm to our communities. Hearing influencers on social media can support our communities by amplifying only heritage signers and advocating for them to have equal access to resources and opportunities.