Below are the comments I left over at BigDaddyGib on this subject. I felt it was worth blogging about after finding other bloggers with similar concerns.
“I got an email on this at work last week. It is a great campaign, BUT it has raised some concern in the deaf and speech impaired community.
We use ASL (American Sign Language) in our home. Our three year old son Caden hears fine, but has serious problems with speech that are linked to a genetic defect. Due to my exposure to ASL over the past three years, I was puzzled when I saw the way “Thank You from the bottom of my heart” was signed in this campaign. Come to find out, the creator of the campaign did not do his homework. Due to some questions of those in the ASL community, the creator of the campaign has placed a message on “The Sign” link within his web site.
Don’t get me wrong. I think this campaign is great. I just wish the guy had done his homework BEFORE getting so well publicized.”
It appears that my gut feeling about this gesture seeming odd was right on the money. Some members of the deaf and speech impaired community have been all over Scott Truitt “The Gratitude Campaign” site owner like white on rice. There were some strong criticisms misleading verbiage on his web site that could make people believe that this gesture was linked to ASL (American Sign language). One of the more polite critics of how this gesture was presented is from Raychelle over at Rays of Raychelle. Raychelle has posted some detailed email exchanges with Scott Truitt.
Scott admitted in his responses to Raychelle that not everyone had been as nice on this subject:
“That is very helpful, Raychelle. I have been getting a lot of e-mails on this, and they are negative. I appreciate you telling me about the blog – I’m hoping that I can log on and clarify this a bit. The last thing we want to do is be disrespectful of the Deaf community – and I absolutely understand your concerns.” Source
Raychelle is not the only blogger following this story with concern over the impact it may have on the signing community. You can read more from lolypup, Kokonut Pundit.
The change made to his web site as a result of the concerns go like this:
“Please note that there has been some debate as to whether this sign is a recognized sign from American Sign Language. With the utmost respect to those who know and use ASL, we are currently consulting several authorities on ASL to come to a resolution on that issue. We will update this page with our findings. In the mean time we would suggest that you use this sign only to thank those who serve, and do not assume that who use ASL will recognize this sign.”
The campaign is certainly getting some press from the big fish bloggers and many others. Michelle Malkin, Black Five, WizBang, and Ace of Spades.
Deborah Feldman reported back in September from over at King5.com that Truitt “got the Seattle Seahawks to play it [The Gratitude Campaign video] on their jumbotron before the Seahawks-Bengals game. His hope is for the gesture to become so common, no one even remembers it took a “campaign” to get it started. Do you think it’ll catch on?”
Well Deborah, it looks like it did catch on. Now there are a few big questions:
Will this campaign prove to be damaging to the ASL community?
How do you tell difference between a troop returning from war and one that just left high school 12 weeks ago and has just graduated basic training?
and most importantly
Who is going to train the returning troops on what this gesture actually means?
Given the bad press on the war effort by main stream media and some bleeding heart liberal congress members, the troops could easily mistake this gesture as getting flipped off or something equivalent if it does not come with a smile or some other form of positive gesture.
Why don’t people just go up and say “thank you” with the God given communication skills they normally use everyday? It is the least we can do for a person who voluntarily signed their name to a contract with the US government to die for our freedom if necessary.