Mural in Idaho Causes Confusion

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Well-meaning attempt to include the deaf community uses sign language incorrectly.

A new mural in downtown Idaho Falls is drawing criticism from members of the deaf community because the painting incorrectly used American Sign Language, the Idaho Falls Post Register reports.

The sign was painted by an artist who is not hearing impaired. It was commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho in partnership with the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation and was meant to depict four signs in American Sign Language — but the signs were illustrated incorrectly.

Members of the deaf community responded this week to a Downtown Development Corporation Facebook post of the mural, saying they should have been consulted on the project.
Some comments expressed disappointment, anger or confusion, while others said they appreciated the intent of the mural.

The mural includes four signs, which were meant to read “ask,” “understand,” “listen” and “look.” Two signing hands frame a silhouette of Idaho on each side.

The artist said in a statement on Facebook that she had consulted a friend who teaches ASL and done “supplemental research” for the mural. “That being said, it’s a complex challenge to show hands in movement especially without the context of a face,” she said.

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