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American Sign Language in virtual space: Interactions between deaf users of computer-mediated video communication and the impact of technology on language practices

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2004

Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712-0303,
Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712-0303,


According to some discussions concerning new information technologies and technologically enhanced communication, we are now in a revolution as profound as the printing press. The Internet is creating new kinds of meetingplaces and work areas and the possibilities of new types of relationships across time and space. This article reports on some ways that the Internet is shaping language practices in the Deaf community, with an interest in how new tools mediate and influence human behavior, including language and the organization of interaction. This includes the development and manipulation of a computer-mediated image of self and other, creativity and problem-solving in new communicative spaces, creating reciprocal perspectives, new participation frameworks, and specifics of language change. For the first time, deaf people can communicate using manual visual language, in many cases their native language, across space and time zones. This groundbreaking situation makes the Deaf community a particularly productive site for research into relationships between technological innovations and new communicative practices.

Research Article
© 2003 Cambridge University Press

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