Deaf and hard of hearing smartphone users: Intersectionality and the penetration of ableist communication norms

Deaf and hard of hearing smartphone users: Intersectionality and the penetration of ableist communication norms

Abstract:

This article examines smartphone usage among deaf and hard of hearing people, and shows how it is deeply shaped by the core function of the voice call. Indeed, while the smartphone appears accessible, it actually reproduces communicative norms of the hearing hegemony. In-depth interviews highlight the social norms of voice calls both as a communicative practice and as forcing communicative values on textual smartphone interactions. People who cannot perform voice calls must obey these norms of immediacy and priority while interacting accessibly via WhatsApp and video calls. Moreover, users’ auditory diversity is reflected in their responses and practices vis-à-vis voice calls, highlighting this as a representation of the hegemonic hearing society. Critical examination of these phenomena shows how deaf and hard of hearing smartphone users’ communicative practices result from intersections of their audiological capacities and other stigmatized positions, which has profound implications for our understanding of media accessibility.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 01/24/2019