Convo has just announced that they have placed what is, quite possibly, the world’s first billboard by the deaf for the deaf. I wanted to take a moment to discuss this announcement in two specific contexts: that of advertising, and that of the fact of the announcement itself.
First, the advertising. The billboard depicts sign language in a manner that is uncompromising; it does not try to explain what it is to a hearing audience. It simply is; a deaf person walking or driving by would understand it instantly. This is great precisely because its geared towards the deaf market in a manner that respects it fully.
No funny deaf-related advertisements about honking the car horn to see which lights stay off.
No using deaf themes or deaf actors or even sign language to market to hearing people. “Look, we’re friends with all the disabled people. We hire them! We are so good. Buy our product.”
This is very refreshing to see, and hopefully other companies see that as an example. The fact of deafness does not need to be addressed. Communicate to the deaf market as if they are deaf, that is sufficient. Sign language. Use their norms and values. Use their language.
Second, the fact of the announcement itself. In a hearing context, an announcement about a specific billboard would be at best uninteresting. Nobody cares about the fact of AT&T or Coke putting up a billboard.
People might care about the message on the billboard. But they generally wouldn’t care about the fact that it was put up, unless your house happened to be right below it and it was blocking your favorite view of the landscape.
But in Convo’s case, we do care because it is the first documented example that most of us have been exposed to of a deaf-owned company actually putting up a billboard. And in our minds, we are thinking to ourselves, whoa, we’re becoming successful enough, mainstream enough, to actually put up a billboard! Go us!
In other words, its somewhat of a collectivist feeling that’s washing over us. Secondary to that (but still important) is congratulating Convo in both surprising us and showing us what can be done.
Personally, I’d like to say kudos and keep up the good work, Convo. We are watching and enjoying your journey through the marketplace.