SXSW Panelists Discussed Deaf Representation, Communication and Technology Access and the Power of Human Connection for Social Change
AUSTIN, Texas, March 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Social impact leaders Alexis Kashar, Storm Smith and Warren "Wawa" Snipe joined Austin-based technology CEO Sherri Turpin at SXSW 2022 to deliver a powerful panel presentation: "Big Bold Brave Ideas for a More Inclusive World." The March 17 panel centered on a thought-provoking "What If You Were Deaf" video and discussion, spotlighting the critical need for greater awareness and understanding, the many every day inequities the Deaf community continues to face today and the deep need for bold change.
SXSW, an essential destination for global professionals, is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of tech, film, music, education, and culture.
"Big Bold Brave Ideas" addressed several relevant and critical issues: no inclusion without Deaf representation, the lack of communication and technology access and the power of human connection for social change. Panelists Kashar, Smith and Snipe who are Deaf, shared many of their own personal life and career experiences covering civil rights, entertainment, music, advertising, technology and hiring and retention practices in the workplace. They also discussed both the key barriers to and bold ideas for creating a more inclusive future world, and ways the hearing community can be better allies to the Deaf and hard of hearing community.
"It's past time," said Turpin, CEO of ZVRS and Purple Communications (ZP) and who moderated the panel. "More than 30 years have passed since the ADA was established and still, the Deaf community does not have equitable accessibility to things the hearing population takes for granted every single day. How is this still possible in the 21st century? It's not hard. It just takes more thought, a commitment to change and willingness to be held accountable, especially by CEOs. I cannot thank SXSW enough for this opportunity and their commitment to diverse veiwpoints and the power of inclusivity for a better society."
The "What If You Were Deaf" video, added Turpin, was intended to very clearly show hearing people the significant lack of communication and language access that Deaf people still face each and every day whether it's at drive thrus, movie theaters, retail stores, their workplaces or even with 911 emergency services. To put hearing people more "in the shoes" of Deaf people, the video asks several key questions, including: what if you were required to have two phone numbers: one for texting and another for calls, and what if you went to see a movie in a different language but no subtitles were available?
Attended by an estimated more than 300 people, "Big Bold Ideas" featured a key moment when, immediately following the What If video, the panelists discussed the video for the next two minutes just among themselves and only using American Sign Language (ASL). There was no audio made available of this conversation to the audience. This too, said Turpin, was done intentionally, to show the hearing audience what it is like to be excluded from the conversation, to not have access to their own language.
Kashar is a renowned civil rights lawyer and entrepreneur who founded the RoseBYANDER jewelry collection. Recently appointed by President Biden to the U.S. Access Board, Kashar highlighted some of her precedent-setting litigation and lifelong advocacy for accessibility. "Human connection," she emphasized, "can affect social change more than anything. Once someone gets it, once someone has a personal connection and can relate, the doors open up." She also discussed the future of the ADA and what is needed for the next 30 years. "We are nowhere near where we need to be and it is critically important our world goes beyond fulfilling the bare minimum legal standard of accessibility."
Smith, an avant-garde impact storyteller, is the first Deaf woman to have been recruited by BBDO Worldwide, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. She serves as Producer & Diversity Inclusion Accessibility Lead at BBDO Los Angeles. "Understanding intersectionality is so important," said Smith. "The only way we all win is to bring us in, to ensure Deaf and people with disabilities are in the room, in front of and behind the camera. Not once in a blue moon but every day and from the beginning. We are here to tell the stories, we're not invisible and we are already ready."
Snipe discussed his historic American Sign Language (ASL) performance at this year's Super Bowl Halftime show, some of the inequities and exclusion he has faced in his own career and how Dip Hop -- a music genre he created -- is opening new doors for Deaf musicians and making music more inclusive and accessible. "Dip Hop is providing access to Hip Hop in sign language, so people can visually hear music. Really, it's for everyone," said Snipe. "There are more than 800 concerts produced each year and Deaf people should be able to go to any one of these at any time. Sign language interpreters should already be there at every single one. This is the revolution. This is what I'm trying to do with Dip Hop."
Turpin's company, ZP, is a leading provider of video relay technology and interpreting services for the Deaf and hard of hearing community. Proficient in ASL, she is committed to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion initiative and is featured prominently in national media for her continued advocacy for greater communication access and equity for the Deaf and hard of hearing community.
ZP plans to make the "Big Bold Brave Ideas" panel content available to the public in the future. For more information please visit ZP.
SOURCE ZP Better Together, LLC