Texting transforms deaf community
By: Alana Rocha
Click the red box in the bottom right-hand corner to better view the sign
language translation. (see link below – video online)
Some call texting impersonal. For those in the deaf community, phone
messaging is the way they directly communicate with the rest of the world.
It’s handy, convenient and faster than a pen and paper.
High school sophomore Marisa King relies on texting and Facebook to get her
point across to anyone, especially those who doesn’t understand sign
“I like the technology now. I feel like I could do anything. I can do it in
my sleep,” she said.
Marisa is among the 500 students at the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin.
And like Marisa, many have never been able to hear.
Even at just 15-years-old, she admits she’s seen technology come a long way.
“It’s such a quick progression, networking. Most of the time I’ll talk with
friends online. After school, I can chat with friends online or I can
communicate with my parents. It’s a lot easier,” she said.
Marisa’s principal, John Serrano, can relate.
“Wow, it’s been huge – a significant change. Growing up I remember relying
on family members for a lot of the sign communication. I had to use the pen
and paper to write back and forth,” he said.
That includes Serrano’s wife, who is also deaf.
“When we’re not together, we do have a lot of texting going on to maintain
that communication. ‘Please pick up some milk on your way home,’ or ‘What
time are you going to make it back to the house?’ Stuff like that.”
Serrano said people who are deaf have come to also rely on video phones to
communicate with each other because they can sign in front of a camera.
Serrano said the technology has kept him close with family back east.
“We’re able to communicate every weekend by having a direct, face-to-face
communication, and they can see their grandchildren as well,” he said.
Of course students here at the Texas School for the Deaf don’t need their
cell phones to communicate during school hours. In fact, it’s not allowed.
But as soon as the day ends, they’re busting out their cell phones to text.
“I can text anybody; I can be in touch with anyone, hearing or deaf,” Marisa
It’s a liberating statement Marisa said just a few years ago she couldn’t
imagine herself saying.
Cell phone plans can also cater to the deaf. Companies like Verizon and At&T
offer data-only plans with unlimited messaging, web browsing and email.