Re-channeling language: the mutual restructuring of language and infrastructure among DeafBlind people at Gallaudet University

Autor/a: EDWARDS, T.
Año: 2018
Editorial: J. Linguist. Anthropol. Vol. 28, nº 3 (2018) pp. 278–92
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Comunidad y cultura sorda » Personas sordociegas


This article is concerned with the re‐channeling of language. It asks: what role does the material environment play in turning a visual language into a tactile language? To pursue that question, I examine language and infrastructure among DeafBlind people at Gallaudet University. Since 2005, aspects of the local urban landscape have been designed with the practices of Deaf people in mind. Recently, under the influence of the protactile movement, attention has turned to the tactile dimensions of design. As advisors, practitioners, and consultants contributing to these efforts, DeafBlind people seek not only to broaden the range of sensory channels linking them to their environment, but also to create environments that reinforce those connections across linguistic, sensory, and environmental domains. Drawing on the notion of “channel” as it has been applied and developed in linguistic anthropology and related fields, I argue that the re‐channeling of language among DeafBlind people at Gallaudet implicates channels of transmission. It cannot, however, be reduced to an effect of their affordances. Rather, the signer's perceptions of what is possible in communication are shaped by more general perceptions of what is possible in life, and what is possible in life depends on infrastructure.