ASL and the Deaf Culture Appropriation of Apple Fitness+
I have been a big fan of Apple Fitness+. However, after completing the workouts for a several months now, I have come to the uncomfortable conclusion that Apple’s misuse of Deaf Culture — in particular, ASL — in their workouts, is a disengaging, and phony, cultural appropriation intended to falsely imply inclusion, when the real aftereffect is a complete failure of meaning. At the beginning, and at the end of almost every workout, but never during a workout, the non-Deaf, and non-ASL fluent, trainers toss in a little ASL sign — a gesture, really — like “ready” or “welcome” or “thank you” and it just comes across as clunky; a falsely sprinkled twinkle on a star. Those throwaway “ASL” signs do not fit the spoken words of the trainer, or even really the intent of the class — they’re just movements intended to appease, and impress, and to not really communicate any emotion or context. Apple uses “ASL signs” as a winking trinket without the inherent value of a cultural totem or the magic of a talisman.
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