The Shared Sign Language of Martha’s Vineyard | Stuff You Missed in History Class: The Podcast

Skip to first unread message

James Craig

Apr 13, 2016, 8:54:59 PM4/13/16

Great podcast episode. Link below. Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

Under the social model, disability is reframed as a social construct that ultimately marginalizes and oppresses people. Simplistically, if an individual is socially marginalized due to a perceived impairment or are unable to physically navigate a space because of a lack of access, they then become, quote, ‘disabled’. In this way, it is not the impairment that has limited their choices and opportunities, but a given society’s reaction to their impairment. 

As to the episode suggestion, I’d like to suggest the history of deaf individuals on Martha’s Vineyard as studied by Nora Groce in Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Martha’s VineyardIt is an outstanding example of inclusion and acceptance in an otherwise pretty bleak history of disability. Historically, Martha’s Vineyard was a relatively isolated island with a high rate of people who were deaf and, uniquely, the hearing individuals all learned sign language to include their deaf community members instead of excluding them. This allowed people who were deaf to be full-fledged participants in the community, because they did not face any significant language barrier. 

I have found that when explaining the idea that disability is a social construct to people, I’m often met with a fair amount of skepticism. I like to use the example of Martha’s Vineyard to show how the social model of disability works in actual practice: when society removes barriers, individuals do not become disabled, as they otherwise would, by perceived impairments.

Sharron Rush

Apr 14, 2016, 11:04:13 AM4/14/16
to AccessibilitySIG
Great video, thanks for sending James!

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Accessibility_SIG" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to
To post to this group, send email to
Visit this group at
For more options, visit

Sharron Rush | Executive Director | | @knowbility
Equal access to technology for people with disabilities

Jayne Schurick

Apr 14, 2016, 11:11:05 AM4/14/16
I know it’s probably not your thing but Dancing with the Stars this season has a guy who’s been completely deaf since birth, multi-generational deaf family…pretty inspiring (plus he’s gorgeous!!!)


Apr 15, 2016, 8:27:25 AM4/15/16
What a great suggestion - thanks, James! And Jayne, will check that out, too. :)

My understanding of social constructs in the last two years has been largely reformed , so I'm eager to dive into this podcast and learn more.

All the best,

Glenda Sims

May 13, 2016, 5:52:12 PM5/13/16
I recently watched this YouTube video called "Social Model Animation".  I love it!

Happy Friday Y'all,

W3C Design Principles:  Web for All.  Web on Everything.
Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages